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Remote leadership: 9 ways your style may backfire
As CIOs and IT leaders adapt to leading fully-remote teams, they may inadvertently adopt bad habits that could hurt culture long term. Watch out for these behaviors
6. Requiring cameras on
"We’re all hearing about Zoom fatigue, that exhaustion that we experience from too many video calls. The last thing managers need right now is for employees to feel more drained. If you’re expecting your reports to check in daily on video calls, you could be adding to their stress. If you set that expectation at the beginning of the pandemic – before we all experienced this massive shift to experiencing everything through a screen – your people may be reluctant to let you know just how taxing being on camera has become for them."
"Give your people a break from the extra mental processing that video calls require. Communicate to them when video is optional. Related to video, stop assuming that your staff wants to socialize during video-based happy hours. Don’t decide for your teams what “fun” activities you should be doing together. Allow your teams to suggest what’s of interest to them when it comes to virtual socializing. Letting your people give their cameras a rest and having more say in how they spend team building activities can help everyone feel more engaged." – Cedric Wells, veteran Director of IT Business Solutions
7. Giving your staff too much to do
"CIOs in particular fall into the trap of over-committing, over-promising, and over-asking their teams to do too many things at the same time to see what sticks. When you break that down to an individual contributor, they have seven, eight, or nine different things on their plates. That just doesn’t work when everybody’s working remotely. They’re too stressed out. If you have nine things being done by six people, you’ve got 30 percent of it getting done."
"When leading remote teams during these times, you must clarify the focus for your individual teams and encourage collaboration. Refine your budgets to do the things that are clearly important and that your organization needs right now." – Isaac Sacolick, President, StarCIO
8. Lacking empathy
"Leaders need to demonstrate higher levels of empathy when leading remotely, especially during this crisis. That means becoming more sensitive to your people’s needs by putting yourself in their shoes. It means recognizing their challenges and giving latitude (i.e. time) to take care of their whole life, not just their responsibilities to the business."
"As challenging as COVID is, it represents an amazing opportunity to show your employees that you’re there for them. They already want to do good work. How much more true will that be when they see how much you care for them? It might be as simple as a quick encouragement or it might be bigger like paying for babysitting or sending lunch to help out with the kids. Either way, when they know that you really do care for them, it demonstrates your empathy and helps you build a lasting team." – Rich Theil, CEO, The Noble Foundry
9. Keeping everyone in the dark
"During these uncertain times, it’s critical that people know what’s going on more broadly in the organization. In the absence of physical ‘water cooler’ type conversations, It’s incumbent on leaders to go beyond talking about the work their teams are doing and make sure they’re talking about what’s going on in the organization more broadly."
"People want to know from their leader that all is well, or even that all is not well. They want to know what’s going on. And while leaders need to make sure their teams stay on task, it’s also really important that they help people understand what’s going on with the organization as a whole – even if there’s nothing significant to note. Without this information, people will often fill in the gaps of their understanding themselves, sometimes with a less than positive perspective." – Drew Bird, founder, The EQ Development Group
[ Are you leading culture change? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation, by Jim Whitehurst. ]