Be a team leader, even in a virtual setting
Considerations such as management styles, leader profiles, and methods of applying authority within a team are already part of the traditional spectrum of any organizational culture. It was easy to take our colleagues’ pulse after sending in feedback, but now there is the back-stage setting at home, and any dialogue suffers delays. Many times, facial expressions brilliantly replaced verbal exchanges, and you managed to negotiate an assignment only based on a shy and slightly unassuming smile. Between us, physical energies really do bring forth the necessary input we need in order to manipulate, disguise, and influence any goal we set for ourselves.
On a different note, we are starting to familiarize ourselves with the methodology of remote work, so we want to be leaders in this context as well.
I am a fairly flexible and open person, and I manage to understand the novelty and the challenges that arise naturally. But if you put a webcam on me, even the thought of having to control my wrinkles when I frown takes hold of any information that leaves me or comes towards me. Therefore, many times I preferred to have these discussions through an audio call, being careful to maintain a proper tone for the dialogue, in order to come away with an honest and accurate message. In fact, I am my best self when I can convey in writing the things that should be verbalized in a meeting room. However, I have learned from experience that there is no perfect way to communicate, I think we have our authenticity and the way it determines us to be special and captivating among a group of people.
Also from experience, I have learned that it is important to be inspired by people who have had success and results in a team-leader role, to lower our guard when receiving feedback, and to customize our management style according to our patterns. The virtualization of the functions of a manager and/or team leader allows you to broach all communication and socialization ‘services’. The compromise is too small not to try all the options and to find out what suits us and what increases the degree of employee loyalty and retention in the company. And with a moderate dose of self-taughtness, we will arrive at the conclusion that being a team leader or remote manager was just a transient challenge, meant to align us with the – at the very least interesting – times in which we live.
I remember that after a few months of the pandemic and working remotely, my perception of a one-on-one meeting had completely changed, and became confused. On the one hand, I wanted to maintain the recurring catch-up and evaluation meetings, on the other hand, I had the feeling that I was blocking an already overbooked calendar with calls and meetings. What would have been the middle ground between these choices? Free will and deadlines were the ones that dictated the planning of the next slots, therefore Skype could ring either because a colleague’s cat died and she needs 2-3 days of vigil and mourning, or the strategic blueprint for next year will change and then we will need to move the submission deadline.
And then I noticed a higher degree of relaxation with regards to the attitude of colleagues distraught by the pandemic, cats have gone to a better world, and tight deadlines. An attitude that manifested itself in the form of trust, appreciation, and gratitude. An attitude that did not undermine their relationship to authority, on the contrary, clarified it enough for me to even know about the vet appointments needed for the afore-mentioned cat. It seems trivial, but in fact it is equally important to know that a deadline was met and to learn of the test results and conclusion of Tomiţă’s consultation.
So be a team leader, it doesn’t matter where you work from with your people, what matters is to empathize during out of control situations, and to make sure that in the second wave of the pandemic, you will have a loyal team ready to support you.