The COVID-19 pandemic has sent millions of Americans home to clock in from their couches and join meetings via Zoom. While some employees will eventually return to the office, many employers have seen the benefits of offering flexible hours and remote work. One survey by Gartner found that 74 percent of chief financial officers expect at least some workers to work remotely on a permanent basis, even after the pandemic passes.
As such, the shift to leadership development through digital platforms is a critical element of successfully making the new remote work environment work while continuing to focus on your leadership initiatives.
The good news is, once the following systems and processes are in place, your leaders will have all the support they need to continue developing while working remotely. Get started with these simple, yet powerful, tips.
Develop Standards for Remote Management Evaluation
Managing remote employees is different from managing in-house teams, which means a manager who successfully leads in-house teams might struggle with managing remote workers.
When looking to hire new leaders, bring this into your job descriptions and expectations, developing standards and assessments that allow you to evaluate a manager’s ability to lead remote workers.
You can also use these standards to get new employees up to speed. In determining what your remote leaders need to continue developing from a distance, consider these suggestions from Gallup:
- Start by asking: Where do you need support and training? Where are you not quite comfortable yet?
- Communicate regularly: Know what your employees need by training your leaders to check in with them regularly and report back to you.
- Technology: Expand your technical support, not just with video call software or chat tools, but with learning-specific resources, like on-demand videos and easily accessible documents.
You may want to invest in a subscription for your leaders to access professional and diverse training videos from home. For example, Udemy has multiple courses on leading virtual teams and becoming a successful remote manager. Lynda.com also offers courses on remote leadership and collaboration.
These are two affordable options that your business can use. If you outsource a service or training professional to train your managers, make sure they offer development resources specific to guiding remote teams.
Set Clear Expectations
As with anything in your business, it’s critical that you set clear expectations, both for yourself and the leaders who are still learning. In “Powerful Strategies for Building a Strong Remote Team,” communications experts at Hubgets explain: “If people don’t understand or misunderstand requirements and tasks, setting things straight on the go could mean a loss of hours, or even days, of work. That could set back the entire team and lead to conflicts and frustration. Avoid any potential damage by making sure your team knows exactly what is expected of them. Set team goals and constantly follow their progress or appoint a team leader to keep track and manage everyone closely.”
Set expectations around:
- How much time should be spent learning?
- What are the goals of each lesson, course, etc.?
- What should the focus be? Or can they choose their own learning paths?
- What are they expected to do after the training?
These expectations ensure that your money on learning software is well-spent and that leaders are reaping the benefits of that investment.
Provide a Diverse Learning Experience
While it may be a myth that catering to different learning styles is beneficial, variety in learning content gives your leaders a chance to shift between video, text and written work or to share their own experiences with colleagues, keeping the remote learning engaging.
James Cross explained a few ways to provide diversity in your workplace leadership training and development:
- Don’t ignore video learning. While this may seem obvious, Cross says, “Many organizations struggle to share this content with their employees in a way that gives them a great playback experience across any device, while simultaneously ensuring security and scalability for a global workforce.” This is why investing in a high-quality video learning platform is key, whether you develop it in-house or work with a third-party provider.
- Leverage employee-generated learning content. Nothing empowers employees more than giving them a say in the process. Leverage this collaborative opportunity to keep leaders interested in development opportunities while also sharing their valuable knowledge.
- Boost engagement with targeted learning content. Use data, both qualitative and quantitative, to deliver targeted learning content that your leaders need the most.
One size does not fill all when it comes to leadership development. Make sure your new remote team of leaders is not only equipped with what they need to manage but are able to stay on track and thrive in their new remote environment.