The workplace has changed dramatically over the past two years, and it will continue to change.
With so many people working virtually, employees expect a more harmonious blend of their jobs and home life. As leaders, we must figure out how to balance that blend with high performance.
When it comes to leading teams and connecting with them at a high level—remote or not—people are the most important piece of the puzzle. These are my five keys to running a successful company while putting your people first.
1. Hire the right people.
When it comes to hiring, I always look at one core thing: character. Look for people who have a desire to make a job more than a job, people who challenge themselves and deliver their best without being asked. Problems arise when we hire out of desperation, as a reaction to our needs. Instead, be proactive: Put in the work and outline the ideal person for the position. Be patient with the process.
2. Set expectations.
Culture comes from within the company, from the people leading it. To set yours, outline the way your company leads.
Look at the U.S. Marine Corps’ 14 leadership traits, for example:
These tenets set the tone for the Marines’ thoughts and actions. Do the same for your team by setting your own leadership principles. Then, no matter where your people are around the world, you all stand together under one set of beliefs.
3. Don’t micromanage.
It’s easy to assume remote teams are slacking because they don’t report to a central location, but I can tell you from running a remote team of 32 employees that the best thing you can do is give them space to work. This is why it’s so important to hire the right people and set your expectations through leadership principles.
Working from home is different than working from the office. When your staff is remote, they will take more breaks and will be interrupted more, but it doesn’t mean they won’t work as hard. In fact, they often work harder and smarter. Instead of micromanaging your team, identify their priorities and lead with consistent communication and accountability.
4. Communicate consistently throughout the day.
My team communicates through Slack and texts. Throughout the day, we send messages about work and where we need help, but we also exchange fun and lighthearted notes, gifs and emojis—sometimes that’s the best way to check in and lift one another up.
We start each day with a quick morning meeting to identify our priorities and roadblocks for the day. The team setting is crucial to keep each other accountable and offer collaboration and support. A few times a week I also take time to reach out to the leaders on my team for video calls. One-on-ones allow you to connect deeper and help create stronger bonds outside of the group huddles. Don’t skip them. They set the foundation for trust because your leadership team will then do the same with the people they lead.
5. Lead with empathy.
Call it EQ, emotional equilibrium, self-awareness or something else, but regardless of the nomenclature, it comes down to one thing: You must lead in a way that lets your team know you care. When people feel you really care about them, they will go the extra mile for you and the people around them.
Show this by taking time to connect with your team members; give them space and opportunities to grow; teach them something new and help them improve their skill sets; give them an extra day off here and there; treat them like family. It’s not always about the money, it’s about how they feel at work and whether they see work as a place that allows them to achieve something of significance.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by @vkstudio/Twenty20