Working in the home office became the new normal due to the corona crisis. Above all, this increases the demands placed on managers. An expert reveals how virtual leadership works best.
Tips for executives: How to lead a team virtually in the home office
Not just since Corona, but all the more now: The topic of home office is omnipresent – and with it the virtual tour. If the majority of employees work from home, however, that is a challenge – for everyone involved. “In the home office, there is a lack of accidental and often spontaneous meetings in the hallway or exchanges at the coffee machine,” says Barbara Wittmann, Country Manager Germany, Austria, Switzerland at LinkedIn.
This makes the corporate culture less tangible. In such a situation, the managers are particularly in demand so as not to lose ties with the teams. Wittmann recommends that managers seek direct contact with employees and, despite the physical distance, give them the feeling that they are being noticed. Also Read: 6 things to fight back against trouble at work
Interpersonal sensitivity and creativity
Of course, it becomes difficult when communication only takes place at a distance in the form of video calls. “Then executives need a high level of sensitivity in order to perceive the communication styles of the individual employees and to integrate the different types of employees,” says the expert. Ideally, nobody goes down in an online meeting – and vice versa, one person is not always the focus.
Not only because of this, interpersonal and creative skills are currently in greater demand than ever among managers . According to Wittmann, the ability to work in a team, time management, adaptability, innovative strength and emotional intelligence are particularly important: “So everything you need to successfully master crises and challenges.” Worth reading: The first week at work: avoid these 6 mistakes
Even at home, employees need to feel that they are involved
However, it may not be the solution to carry out video call after video call just to communicate with each other and to maintain contact – that quickly becomes annoying for everyone involved. “It is important to let the employees have a say and to respond to their individual needs ,” says Wittmann.
For some, a recurring update call may be important – others don’t need it or even find it annoying. At this point, managers should have confidence in their employees . According to Wittmann, it is also important to support employees in their further development at home and to include them in decisions . “Successful digital leadership requires implementing new forms of collaboration and adapting the previous management style to the new situation.”
Conduct feedback discussions and be a mentor
So that no one is left behind, managers should now ask even more questions and listen even better so that everyone feels noticed. According to Wittmann, a boss should ideally also address the individual living and family situation of the employees.
“Because the atmosphere can no longer be captured in the office, feedback from the team and feedback discussions are particularly important,” says the expert. ” Anonymous surveys can also provide information about how employees are doing and what moves them.” Individual mentoring is also important in the home office, especially for people who are still at the beginning of their professional careers, says Wittmann. This gives young professionals the opportunity to develop themselves further and to develop their individual potential.
Find out which tools are appropriate
Management often works quite well at a distance – especially with companies and employees who have already worked a lot on the move. Virtual leadership is difficult, especially in Germany, however, sometimes due to technical reasons such as poor internet. “In terms of Internet speed, Germany is unfortunately at the bottom of the European league when it comes to expanding the infrastructure. There is room for improvement here,” says Wittmann.
It is also important for managers that they know and use the right tools – that is, that they develop a feeling for when a video call is hip, when an email is appropriate or when they should call someone. In addition, of course, they need to know what programs are there to enable virtual collaboration. Take a look: First salary: this is how you get by with your money
Online courses can be helpful in continuing education
“Managers shouldn’t be afraid to try out different tools, but also to test other formats depending on the content,” says Wittmann. “Group work, comments and hand signals within a video conference increase activity.” The entire team benefits from this.
Wittmann also recommends further training offers in the form of online courses , such as those offered by LinkedIn. “In any case, digital leadership takes a lot more than just digital skills,” she says. “The digital leader an all-rounder with problem-solving skills, the processes is managing from outside and ask employees alike and must promote.”
Also plan casual appointments
It also makes sense to schedule casual appointments with employees , where the focus is not on effectiveness but rather on team spirit . “If joint activities such as internal birthday parties or after-work groups only take place to a limited extent or no longer take place at all, fixed appointments should be planned in order to promote social interaction,” says the LinkedIn expert.
One possibility for this are 15-minute coffee breaks, which are not about business, but about other topics. “Talking about non-professional topics can also help at the beginning of an appointment to maintain personal connection with employees,” advises Wittmann.
Maintain network beyond your own team
Whether it’s regular virtual coffee breaks, yoga via zoom or even a conference on pets or the houseplant of the week: “There is no magic bullet here, everyone has to try out what works well with their team,” says the expert.
According to Wittmann, it is also important to meet virtually with colleagues who are not in the core team or who are working on other projects. “Networks beyond your own team or your own role are often important for further professional development.”
Challenges for managers are increasing
Overall, according to Wittmann, the challenges for managers from digitization are currently higher than ever. Many of the employees also experience working from home as stressful, which is particularly due to constant availability. Around 80 percent of employees also work more overtime in the home office, as a study by LinkedIn shows.
“In order to mentally accompany and support employees through the crisis, managers should seek personal conversations and open themselves up more,” says Wittmann. “The so-called digital leader should also take on the role of a coach more often and now more often delegate and give up responsibility.” More freedom of choice and flexibility are a sign of trust for the employees. “And that is now more important than ever.”