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March 31, 2020

Four Keys To Leading Effective Remote Teams

Four Keys To Leading Effective Remote Teams
Managing a remote team works best when a leader employs skills such as patience, flexibility and communicating clear structure and goals.

In the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s dash to offer remote access teaching, learning and working in response to COVID-19, the College of Business turned to Dr. Tawnya Means to provide expertise on how to successfully manage a remote team.

Pulling from syllabi in her Leadership, Communication, and Teams in the Virtual World (MNGT 470) course and nearly 20 years specializing in online learning for higher education, the assistant dean and director of the college’s Teaching and Learning Center created a presentation and hosted a webinar, making both available to colleagues across campus and in this article.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to help people feel confident and have the resources that they needed to be successful,” Means said. “Leading teams online is something that I have knowledge of and experience doing, and I wanted to share that with others in the college and the university.” 

Four key messages she shares for managing a remote team include:

Assume The Best Of Team Members
Give others the benefit of the doubt. Use predictable patterns in communication and shift tasks when possible, monitoring progress or mentoring as needed.

Create Structure And Standards
Have clearly defined roles, vision and goals. Learn how to use technology and take time to stay connected. Handle conflicts in smaller groups outside of main meetings. And deliver praise for accomplishments and celebrate successes whenever possible.

Run An Efficient Virtual Meeting
Set expectations, limit multi-tasking and offer an agenda. Allow a few minutes for small talk before getting down to business. Summarize meetings and follow up as needed. Allow fluidity and flexibility as it allows.

Be There For Each Other
During this high-stress time, individuals may be struggling. Remind everyone that you are here for a common purpose and encourage frank discussions. Be deliberately empathetic and be willing to learn from each other.

“Moving to remote work – even when planned months in advance – can be difficult,” Means said. “We, as an institution, have made this transition in weeks. It’s been stressful and the key thing we all need to remember is to be patient with each other. Your team may not be perfect at first. But, it will get there in time.”

To learn more about topics including leadership, communications, engagement and productivity in times of high-level personal disruption, view Means’ webinar video “Managing a Remote Team” at the links below.

See the video from KOLN/KGIN 10/11: https://use.vg/dqhCxB

See the presentation slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1a4ZURMVp3Ze0eCfEKpDslmRj0p3IxA1nqKCmkkb6kZg/edit?usp=sharing

Learn more about the Teaching and Learning Center at https://business.unl.edu/tlc