How To Lead Well From A Distance
Leading remote teams takes a certain amount of finesse. When you no longer see your sales reps face-to-face, you must employ some new tactics to ensure you lead them effectively. While communication is crucial when managing remote teams, sales managers need to provide more than regular feedback and check-ins to keep their teams running smoothly.
Deanna deBara, a writer, speaker, and coach, says long-distance leadership is challenging but can be done well when you keep a few important tips in mind. deBara checked in with remote work expert Kevin Eikenberry on how leaders can empower their team to do their best work during these times of transition.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share what deBara learned from Eikenberry on how to lead your employees well, no matter where they are located.
Embrace the three-o model. Eikenberry says that leaders must always focus on the three O's: outcomes, others, and ourselves. Each element is important on its own, but each element also integrates with the others. For example, to be the best leader, you cannot be laser-focused on reaching a certain goal if it is at the expense of your team or yourself. According to Eikenberry, the three-o model of leadership is even more important in remote work situations since the outcomes must be even clearer.
Define your expectations. Even though your sales team may feel comfortable remotely by this point, they may not know exactly what you expect from them. When everyone is working together in the same office, deBara points out that it's easy to check in to see how someone is doing with a new sales tool or if they have questions about a new account. However, with sales reps working from home, you miss out on those impromptu pop-ins. The solution, Eikenberry says, is to clearly define your expectations on what the work is and how it's going to be completed. Your employees should know their deadlines and deliverables. They should also know how often they are expected to interact. The more clarity you can provide, the better, says Eikenberry.
Create collaboration opportunities. When teams are dispersed, sales reps can't run into each other by chance in the hallway or catch up at the water cooler. That's why Eikenberry recommends virtually creating these moments and creating chances for your sales reps to socialize. One way to do this? Set up a virtual coffee break. Invite everyone to turn on their webcam and start their day with a cup of coffee or tea with others on the team. Making time to connect and laugh is important, especially in remote environments.
Make the most of your meetings. Since your sales reps may be missing the casual chatter from the office, make sure you include social time in your meetings, recommends Eikenberry. However, you should also make your meetings effective by setting a clear agenda and sending it your team members ahead of time. When the meeting kicks off, make sure everyone gets to share their ideas and questions. It's not always easy for everyone to chime in on a remote call, so be proactive by calling on team members and ensuring they are heard.
Keep home and work separate. According to Eikenberry, leaders should help their team members establish boundaries between work and home. Even though you may not be going into an office anytime soon, it's helpful to stick to a routine. Set a clear start time and end time. Be sure to communicate with your team when you're available and when you're offline and encourage them to do the same.
You may have experienced a few hiccups as you have adjusted to leading a remote sales team. Leading remote workers comes with some challenges that don't exist when everyone reports to the same office. Whether your team is starting to transition back to the office, or you plan to work remotely for now, keep the above tips in mind to give your sales team the best guidance.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Deanna deBara is a Portland, Oregon-based writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and coach.