Have you ever been in a situation where your teammates refused to talk about their problems?
You plan a brainstorming session but some folks never contribute.
Picture a feedback session where you ask your teammates to think through ways to advance projects, but they go mute.
If all of that sounds like you, odds are your teammates are having difficulty trusting you.
With remote work on the rise, trustworthy leadership is becoming more important than ever- Virtual leaders are contemplating over engaging ways to bring their teams together, accelerate trust, and power up productivity as their teams adjust to new routines.
A culture of trust is pivotal when it comes to harnessing the benefits of remote working.
Of course, you can’t push people to trust you but you can always engineer strategies to make it easier for coworkers to trust you.
Here are a few tactics to try!
Model Unbiased Behavior
Find ways to treat your teammates fairly. Consider ways to help your colleagues so they can accomplish their goals and those of the organization. Each team member should feel valued, heard, and involved. After all, they deserve praise for what they’ve achieved.
As per a Deloitte survey, employees prefer a work environment that fosters inclusion.
In the light of current scenarios, employees value inclusive leadership. As virtual leaders, you need to act in the best interest of your employees, encourage innovation and reward creativity to help employees perform at their best.
And cultivating an empathetic culture often starts at the top. Organizations with inclusive ethos are likely to retain top talent, thereby exceeding business objectives.
Virtual leaders need to set the vision right by adopting an inclusive leadership style that prioritizes making unbiased workplace decisions, encouraging open communication, and acting upon each team members’ opinions.
By embodying inclusive leadership and actively nurturing trust, virtual leaders are sure to create a trustworthy workplace.
Living in a masked world has compelled virtual leaders to think of new trust-building approaches.
And one way is to DELEGATE!
The major problem that prevents virtual leaders from creating successful remote teams is their reluctance to delegate. They just don’t trust their employees.
As a leader, you must be comfortable trusting your team, just like how you managed to during the first wave of the pandemic.
Be open to delegation. Entrust the right task to the right person at the right time. This doesn’t mean assigning tasks that you’re good at. Instead, it’s about communicating the belief and why you think your team member will be able to do a good job. Delegation is about invoking trust. You must express unwavering trust towards the delegated task.
Transform Your Mindsets
To be a high-performing virtual leader, you need to think on the outside of tools and technologies. When you don’t meet people in person, everything becomes slow, right from actions to decision-making and efficiency.
So how do you make sure people don’t blame each other and get their stuff done without having to micromanage?
The antidote is shifting mindsets.
You need to shuck off this limiting belief that your out-of-the-sight teammates are working only if you see them doing so. As long as the work is getting done, the “time-in-seat” shouldn’t bother you at all.
If you want to gather trust, you have no choice but to adapt your mindsets.
Teams are scattered all over the planet. Holding on to ways you’ve always led a team won’t work anymore. To survive in a virtual setup (which might be a full-fledged reality in the foreseeable future), you need to move forward. Accept that it is a new normal and don’t try to mend it via traditional ways of working. Adapt to reality as it unfolds.
The only way to thrive as remote teams is to metamorphose into a more outcome-driven mindset.
If you try to micromanage people, you hint at them with a sign of distrust.
Well, you can always keep trust levels optimized by simply setting up automated workflows.
Make the best use of project management software like Trello, Asana, Slack to constantly track the progress of your teammates without having to spy on them.
Such workflow management tools also help step up visibility. With PMS, you no longer have to chase up your team on long due work. You get to visualize not just the project timeline but also who’s doing what by when. So, it’s a win-win situation for virtual leaders and their teams.
Moreover, ensuring transparency across the team also becomes much easier. And more transparency means more accountability within distributed teams. So, if you want to strengthen trust, get your team in a single shared space.
Ask for Feedbacks
Not sharing the same workstation doesn’t mean you can’t initiate effective feedback conversations. Even though virtual meetings are the essential reality, it’s still possible to give or receive feedback, whenever needed.
Asking for feedback has never been this important. However, you shouldn’t confuse feedback with annual performance reviews.
Aside from the 1-on-1s, you should also gather feedback during your regular day-to-day interactions. Or aim to connect at least twice a week via phone or video. Park time to identify blockers and touch base on your team member’s constraints. Meeting often will also allow you to address issues at the earliest!
Similarly, group meetings are another huge opportunity where virtual leaders can talk about any team member’s accomplishments. Let the discussion flow and allow teammates to voice their opinions.
Bottom line- Your teammates have to feel safe to give constructive feedback. Take their suggestions to heart. Because the last thing anyone would want is to have their ideas ignored.
Are you still fixating on your team’s working hours?
Are you trying to control their work schedule?
According to a 2019 study by Staples, 90% employees believe flexible work options would enhance their morale, and 67% say they would consider quitting if their work policies weren’t flexible.
So, if you don’t let people work flexibly, they’re going to quit!
When you operate virtual teams in distinct time zones, people may not be synchronized. That’s alright. Encourage everyone to share their active working hours, so other team members know who to expect a response from and who not.
Alternatively, don’t force your team to turn on their cameras. Respect their boundaries. It’s okay if they don’t show up unless it’s very urgent.
You need to accept the fact that work doesn’t have to be accomplished in particular order, place, or time.
One of your members can’t make it to your weekly meeting? Have the call recorded.
A colleague lost their file? Hunt for a file storage solution
Managing virtual teams shouldn’t be a chore. There’s always a fix. It’s just how prepared you’re to embrace it!
The more freedom you give your team to deliver their tasks, the greater their chances of trusting you and sticking with you.
In an era where cohesion, collaboration, and employee satisfaction are more valued than ever, offering flexible working conditions is an indispensable cultural asset.
Define Team Values
A lack of vision for what the team is trying to accomplish erodes transparency.
With virtual teams split up, precisely defined values can strengthen teamwork and foster trust. It can also help your team members stay focused and secure.
If everyone in your team susses out business objectives, it chops off any grey area. The expected deliverables become crystal clear.
Secondly, virtual leaders should have everything documented at every step of the way. If the team keeps finding out unexpected things, trust will continue to suffer.
Don’t Expect People to Know It All
With dispersed teams, it’s harder for virtual leaders to sense physical cues. And so does virtual teams. In such circumstances, creating a welcoming environment and asking employees if they would like your help, in any possible event, can enable the development of a trustworthy culture.
Ask them if they’re at ease using a particular tool/technology. If you introduce a collaborative software, solicit their opinions. Ensure they are all comfortable with it.
Roll up opportunities for people to open up and talk about their issues. Don’t assume they know everything. Because, in reality, they don’t.
Ready to Lead Virtual Teams?
Dealing with virtual teams isn’t wine and dine. And it’s easy to think that investing in tools and technologies will yield results. But the fact is that leading virtual teams requires way more than investments in expensive software. Leaders need to change their mindsets and find ways of enabling people.
It’s your culture and system that needs to shape up. Clear communication cascading from the leaders is imperative. As virtual leaders, you need to amplify the trust message. And when things go out of the way, step up and say, “We’re in this together and we’re going to fix this very soon.” So show up, let people know they’re important assets, and instill trust that can counteract an exit wave coming your way.
At KNOLSKAPE, we equip your leaders to build connected teams and deliver successful outcomes via a simulation on LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS! Interested to learn more? Contact us today!