Keyword: Leadership Development
Title tag: Leadership Development and Distributed Workforces
Meta description: Developing leadership that can successfully manage a distributed workforce is challenging. Learn about the skills today’s leaders need to succeed.
Alt tag – main photo: Employee interacting with colleagues on a Zoom call via computer
Leadership Development: Does Your Organization Have What It Takes to Succeed in a Distributed Workforce World?
Scattered workforces offer new challenges for today’s leaders
Just a few generations ago, employees worked 9-to-5 jobs in offices surrounded by their colleagues and bosses. Their work tools consisted of desktop computers, landlines and fax machines.
Today, the work environment looks very different. Young, tech-savvy personnel now work from home offices, at local coffee shops and even on airplanes. And those bulky desktop computers and wired equipment? They’ve been replaced with compact laptops, tablets and cell phones that can be used anywhere, anytime – as long as a Wi-Fi signal is available.
As we advance further into what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, distributed workforces are becoming the norm rather than the exception. In fact, IBM predicts the mobile workforce will hit 1.87 billion by 2022.
The Benefits of Using a Distributed Workforce
There are many reasons why companies are shifting to a distributed workforce model. Here are a few of the positives:
- Employees are more productive. Fewer distractions allow employees to stay focused throughout the day with less downtime.
- Employees deliver more work. Research has shown that companies get what equates to an extra workday a week from staff who work remotely.
- Companies save money. Businesses who let employees work remotely 50% of the time save $11,000 per person annually.
- Companies are able to recruit better talent. Offering the option to work remotely can be an important dealmaker when attracting talented candidates who want flexibility.
- Companies are able to retain talent for longer. Studies have shown that turnover is 25% lower at companies that allow remote working.
The Challenges of Leading a Distributed Workforce
Despite the positives, this business model – which is especially prevalent in the technology industry – creates many challenges for company leaders.
It can be hard to engage a scattered workforce in different locations and time zones. Employees may feel isolated when they’re not surrounded by colleagues like you’d find in a typical office setting.
Individuals and departments may feel out-of-sync with others in the company too. While this can happen in a traditional office, it’s much more pronounced when employees only interact via Zoom calls and text messages.
Productivity is another issue. Without a supervisor on hand to oversee employees, individual output may suffer.
The Skills Today’s Leaders Need
Today’s leaders need to develop a skill set that takes into account the unique needs of a distributed workforce. This includes:
- Helping employees find meaning in their day-to-day work. A recent study discovered that workers who understand their role and purpose are 1.4 times more engaged in their work. They’re also three times more likely to stay at a company over time.
- Developing a bond of trust with employees. Managers can achieve this by actively listening to employees. Even better, they can prove they heard them by acting on their feedback. Being willing to have tough, yet productive conversations with employees that help them develop emotional intelligence are also important. Following up on a regular basis is another way to build trust.
- Coaching employees to excel. Getting employees to perform at a higher level takes more than just being a good leader. You’ve got to know how to teach them new skills, provide motivation, and give effective and appropriate feedback when necessary.It also means being open and honest when preparing employees for what’s to come. Is your company adopting AI into your systems? If so, then explain how the change will affect your team and provide them with strategies for adjusting to the change.
- Promoting collaboration and teamwork among employees. Many distributed employees feel isolated at one time or another. Bosses who communicate by giving commands can worsen this situation. Instead, task employees with solving a challenge, and give them opportunities to work together. This promotes camaraderie and helps individuals feel like a valued part of the team.
- Encouraging each team member to participate. It’s common for a remote worker to feel invisible. Get them to engage with you and colleagues by seeking their opinion, asking them to share a customer anecdote, and encouraging them to suggest ideas for improvement.You may also want to try hosting team-building activities and virtual social events. These can build fellowship and familiarity among team members. After all, your employees are more than just workers. They’re dynamic people with interesting lives outside of work. Giving them a chance to interact socially can strengthen relationships between you and all team members.
- Using goalsetting to inspire growth. Help employees feel a sense of accomplishment by setting goals that are tough, but achievable. These can be individual or team goals. Be sure to set up a way to measure their actions, so you can assess their progress.
Developing Leadership Skills in a Virtual World
As more in-office employees begin working remotely, it will be vital for your leaders to develop skills that allow them to engage, develop and motivate their direct reports from afar.
“Today’s leaders are expected to excel in a complex set of challenges: navigate through ambiguity; deal with increased globalization, digitization and disruption; and deliver results,” says Rebecca Ray, Ph.D, executive vice president at The Conference Board. “At the same time they must also develop, engage and inspire diverse talent, be excellent communicators and lead with authenticity.”
Many businesses, however, lack the ability to develop leaders who have the skills to succeed in the modern workplace. The technology sector is one of these, recording the lowest leader success rates of any industry.
Learning to Lead Better
Is your organization struggling to engage your remote employees, communicate effectively, and attract and retain top talent? It could be a result of your leadership development program.
Luckily, there’s a way to remedy this. You can learn how to create a leadership program that works in today’s fast-moving technology industry when you attend our FREE webinar: “Developing Leaders in a Distributed Workforce World.”
In this 60-minute webinar, we’ll cover:
- What drives employee engagement and how to foster it among your teams
- How to avoid the “Robinson Crusoe” effect and make employees feel like part of the team
- The simple secret to retaining talent and reducing staff turnover
- 3 easy “tricks” to get remote workers to participate more often
- Proven strategies for developing trust across a digital landscape
Reserve your spot for our June 24 webinar now!
Webinar: “Developing Leaders in a Distributed Workforce World”
Date: Wed., June 24
Time: 10 a.m. PST
Remember, in less than two years there will be almost 2 million employees working remotely. Do your company leaders have the skills to successfully manage them? Register for our webinar to learn what your leaders need to know to guide your company into the future.
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