This past semester I was given a leadership position on a team, and I was absolutely thrilled. I had been looking to get some leadership experience while in college, so this was a nearly perfect opportunity. The only problem was that it was a role I was going to have to fill remotely. With essentially no real leadership experience prior, I was unsure of how well I would be able to direct my team, especially since we would never meet together in person. Now that the semester is coming to a close, I figured I’d share my tips for being the best leader you can be for a remote team.
- Consistent Communication: Yes, I know it seems obvious, but communication is the make or breaks for a remote team. If your team is remote, it is extremely important to make sure everyone is aware of the team’s progress, successes, and future plans. Keeping detailed weekly or biweekly communication with your team through messages and status reports can be a great way to keep communication with the team members. By keeping in touch with your team members, you are keeping your team’s projects relevant. The last thing you want is for your team to forget about the projects you’re working on. Progress will move much slower if your communication isn’t strong between team members.
- “Open-Door” Policy: While being on a remote team inherently means you won’t be meeting with your team in person, it is important to establish an open line of communication between you and your team members. Make sure you create an “open-door” policy type of setup within your team. Whether that be through email or messaging, team members should feel comfortable asking questions. Being on a remote team means there will inevitably be confusion. To make sure your team members are all on the same page and maximize your team’s success, encourage them to ask questions.
- Create a Timeline: With a lack of consistent weekly or bi-weekly synchronous meetings, it is important to set hard deadlines to keep the team progressing steadily. Without a set timeline, group members are unlikely to keep up to date with work. By implementing hard deadlines and a set timeline, you will be giving your team members consistency and direction. This will create structure within the otherwise structureless world of remote, asynchronous projects and assignments.
- Be Understanding: Finally, it is extremely important to be understanding. As a leader of a remote team, it is imperative that you create a supportive environment for your team members. Though we are seeing the world return to semi-normalcy, we are all still recovering from the impact of a global pandemic. Roadblocks are likely to occur. It is important that you are understanding and supportive of your team members during any issues you may experience as a team. Leaders are responsible for facilitating the success of the team, and one of the best ways to do so is by creating an environment where team members feel listened to and cared about.
While these tips will greatly improve your ability to lead a remote team, in this new, asynchronous, technical world, these tips will likely benefit in more areas of your life than just leadership. Remember, I was completely new to leadership when I was told to run a team remotely. While I’m sure I made some mistakes along the way, if I can do it, so can you. If you are given the opportunity to lead a team, even if it is a remote position, I would encourage you to take on the challenge!