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  • Writer's pictureBruce Langevin

Reimagining the Future of Work - 3 Steps to Supercharge Virtual Performance

As we kick the great reset of 2020 to the curb, and 2021 leaves the starting gate, one unmistakable line that has been drawn in the sand is that business leaders have awakened to the fact that working from home can be productive, cost effective and viable.

A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has

2 out of 3 employers saying maintaining employee morale is a challenge. 83% of the same survey group claim they are adjusting their long-term business practices, while 71% expressed the difficulty experienced adapting to remote work.

Those that manage people have been forced to employ traditional tool sets to address non-traditional challenges – Managing virtual teams, ensuring work life balance, and promoting high performance through virtual means.

Moving into the end of the first quarter of 2021, it is clear our new virtual footing will not change any time soon – we need to re-ignite fresh leadership approaches and tool sets, to set ourselves apart by supercharging the performance of our virtual teams.

The following steps will certainly go a long way to super charging virtual team performance.

Step 1 – Make Time for a Vision Reset

The traditional team dynamic was often guilty of overlooking this key ingredient to high performing teams – A vision relook, and confirmation of commitment, is doubly important for teams working remotely. The sense of belonging, and input into the “big” picture, ensures engagement and drive towards the end value of the work.

Restate each players role and function, intentionally connecting the dots between each role. Define and describe the new normal and what, if anything, requires tweaking to adjust and fine tune performance goals. Have the discussion at the team level first, and then at the individual, ensuring clarity.

This vision reset may inform the elimination or combining of some roles. Once clearly reset, move out of the way. You have invested the required effort to reset and restate the vision and approach, now let your trusted resources get on with what you have delegated.

As their leader, do not be the reason for underperformance and play the strategic role your team requires in order to be virtual super stars.

Step 2 – Refresh Your Playlist

You have heard of the expression the “soundtrack of your life.” It provides rhythm and pace, and in many cases a sense of stability and repeatability. Your work life and organizational culture has a pace and cadence as well. Tuesday standups, daily scrums, and the bi-weekly staff meeting. The realities of the past year have demanded a rethink and adjustment to nearly everything – lets refresh that playlist and initiate a new cadence for our teams.

Embrace the non-formal and be structured about it – sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? Current research has confirmed that much of the feeling of isolation and disconnect in our teams is stemming from the loss of the informal. Meeting for coffee at 10ish - The casual connections at the printer – the 2 minutes of social interaction before the “real” meeting starts.

Initiate a different cadence – meet on different days and for different durations. Switch up meeting titles, and be intentional about recognizing the new normal, ensuring that informal other than work-related opportunities happen and are successful.

Replace the old with the new and refresh your virtual team’s playlist.

Step 3 – Promote Empowerment and Initiative

There are likely members of your team that you know better than others. As a leader do not settle for surface knowledge. Really get to know them. What is their context. The context that you no longer have access to. 5 people, in the same home, connecting virtually to work, friends and family, all at the same time. Elderly parents or poor internet?

Getting to really understand the behind-the-scenes context of the people you lead will better inform your approach for delegation, and goal setting. The current distraction index is no longer the one size fits all of the traditional workplace.

Empower your team by prioritizing outcomes rather than work.

Use the language of outcomes initially in your vision reset from Step 1, and then in setting your individual and team performance targets. In doing so you build trust by recognizing 9 to 5 has in many ways become 7-9 and 12-7. None of which matters when the agreed to definition of success is articulated by outcomes. As that trust builds, team members will be further inclined to take the initiative, and look for ways to embrace virtual, for the good of both themselves, as well as the team and greater organization.

As you move further along your virtual leadership journey, acknowledge the need for intentional change and adjustment, and explore these 3 steps to supercharge virtual performance. In doing so you will be setting the all-important groundwork required to be prepared for tomorrow – today.

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