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How to lead a team more effectively from home

How to lead a team more effectively from home
October 16, 2020 Heather Janak

How to lead a team more effectively from home

Employees around the world are working from home more than ever before in history. Some successful in-person leaders and teams find themselves struggling to translate their success to a remote setting.

Human resource development expert Dr. Michael Beyerlein suggests leaders start by asking some questions to gauge their effectiveness:

• Am I connecting with members?
• Can I hear all their voices?
• Am I valuing diversity of perspectives?
• Am I passing the leadership baton to the member with the most relevant expertise?

“These questions apply to both face-to-face and virtual teams, but in a virtual setting one must work harder at listening,” Beyerlein said.

Beyerlein is a professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development. His research centers on teams and collaboration, creativity and innovation, knowledge management and intangible capital.

Beyerlein said another challenge a virtual setting imposes is lack of human interaction. He suggests adding a check-in during meetings where team members can engage in more informal dialogue. This small element promotes a supportive environment where employees feel valued, which Beyerlein said is key to team success.

“Virtual teams can be convenient, and members can call in from nearly anywhere on the planet,” Beyerlein said. “However, one big loss is the watercooler talk – informal, spontaneous conversations that can result in shared ideas that later redirect the team’s conversation to new possibilities.”

More factors influencing virtual team success include shared commitment to collaboration, an energizing leadership style, motivational energy, evolving group process and appropriate tools and equipment.

Beyerlein also highlighted specific training in teamwork or learning how individuals within a team function.

“Training in teamwork is a rare resource in most companies, but the leading companies invest significantly in it, since they recognize the value of skilled team members,” Beyerlein said.

Effectiveness in teams requires investment. However, sometimes individuals can more effectively accomplish tasks independently. Beyerlein’s top advice for leaders and teams is — don’t create one if you don’t have to.

“If you do have to create a team for a complex problem, invest enough to enable it to succeed,” Beyerlein said.

As for life post COVID-19, Beyerlein suspects working from home will become more commonplace.

“Around the world, many will continue to work from home after the pandemic is under control at least part of the time,” Beyerlein said. “Major companies are reducing office space in anticipation of that shift.”

About the Writer

Heather is responsible for news coverage in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development.

Articles by Heather

For media inquiries, contact our Media Relations Coordinator, Ashley Green


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