The Leader’s Role In A Remote Work Environment

Whether operating in a start-up, small business, middle market company or large corporation, leaders need to make significant adjustments to sustain employee productivity levels. It is a different world requiring new approaches in boosting employee engagement. In this situation, the leader’s role is to ensure each employee understands their priorities, raises their customer service levels, collaborates with the team and prepares to change/innovate as needed. Understand: Your employees will be your stabilizers and your employees will be your growth catalysts. Here are a few suggestions on the leader’s role:

Weekly Engagement With Your Direct Reports

You are now no longer in the same building or campus with your people. TRUST is the vital relationship today. They need to know that you care about them. So, weekly contact with each employee is the minimum involvement. What is the form this contact should take:

  • How is your health? Each conversation with employees should begin with this question.
  • What are your priorities this week? How will these priorities impact our short-term business success? Will these priorities be completed this week?
  • As you operate remotely, what support do you need?
  • Seek a weekly recap of their work. Ask specific questions about their wins and opportunities.
  • Follow-up with your directs to make sure that they are engaged weekly with their team.
  • Finally, ask this question…..what other items/needs should be discussed during our weekly engagement?

Virtual Walk-Byes

The office drop-in visits are gone for now. But, every leader can practice this by picking up your cellphone and having an impromptu call with a team member. These drive-bye calls may even be more meaningful than your regular weekly, more structured visits.

A team member may be struggling more in this setting. Set-up an early morning coffee chat with this individual and just listen to their thoughts. These type of conversations can be the catalyst in raising their confidence level.

Quarterly Reviews

Shorter, more focused-quarterly reviews are important. During times of significant change, building confidence in your people is vital. These brief reviews will not only focus on the recent past but will engage your people in thinking innovatively about the next three months. It is the leader’s role to motivate their people to learn from the past and to think innovatively about the company’s short term future. Crisis-thinking is about innovating the future. Change is required to survive. Schedule brief, formal quarterly reviews to accomplish both – learning from the previous 10-12 weeks and preparing for the next 10-12 weeks. THIS IS VITAL IF YOUR COMPANY WILL SURVIVE AND GROW.

We're In Your Corner

The Altman Institute and our network of alumni and friends are committed to helping organizations in the midst of this crisis and to helping build the new society and economy that will emerge post COVID-19. We believe innovation and entrepreneurial action are (and will be) more important than ever as the world gets back on its feet. We want to help you and to enlist you in helping others. Reach out, and connect with us today.

We are compiling an ongoing collection of COVID-19 resources for organizations, vetted by Miami entrepreneurship faculty and other experts in the Miami Entrepreneurship Network.
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About Tom Heuer

Tom Heuer is the Richard Forsythe Chair and clinical lecturer in entrepreneurship at the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship at Miami University. Tom is an experienced Senior Corporate Strategist with a Big 4 Consulting Firm and Fortune 200 Company, He combines his executive line management background with his core competencies in leadership and strategy to bring a refreshing, innovative approach to strategic planning, organizational change and plan execution.

He is a frequent author and speaker on the topics of strategic and leadership issues, creativity, culture, strategic change, and more.