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The Remote Chess Game: Knowing When to Move, When to Wait
Stepping up or sitting back? Explore the intricate dynamics of remote leadership in this week's issue where I share personal experiences and insights on managing a remote team effectively
Hi, Remote Leader 👋
This week, I found myself in a challenging position as a remote team leader: I had to let one of our team members go.
It was a tough decision not driven by a lack of technical skills or a disagreement on strategy. Instead, it was about reliability.
Despite being a valued team member, his sudden bouts of unreachability without prior notice started taking a toll on the rest of the team.
The silver lining in all of this?
The unwavering dedication and cooperation of the rest of the team, whose quick thinking and adaptability ensured our service quality remained top-notch 🙏
But why did we let this go on for six months?
Why didn't we act immediately after the first few instances?
That's the topic of our discussion today.
Throughout my journey as a remote leader, I've seen a spectrum of bizarre and intriguing scenarios - some of which could make up an entire chapter in a riveting book.
I've seen it all, from employees juggling multiple full-time jobs to instances where another covertly replaced a team member under the same identity.
These experiences have shaped my understanding of remote work dynamics and made me realize the importance of two crucial actions: sitting back, observing, and knowing when to step up and act.
Here are some hard-learned insights from my remote leadership journey
Remote work inherently lacks the same level of emotional connection that on-site work offers. A physical office's everyday interactions and camaraderie are challenging to replicate in a remote setup.
Is this a downside?
In some ways, yes, as it might not cultivate the same level of attachment.
But it also has an upside: the enforced distance can push us to create better procedures, foster a culture of written communication, and encourage more respect for individual roles.
The Power of Webcam
Never underestimate the impact of turning on your webcam during meetings.
It's the closest type of interaction to in-person ones.
Seeing your colleagues can build a stronger bond and prevent misunderstandings.
In a remote setup, it's not about expecting your team members to be available 24/7. It's about building an environment where everyone knows they can rely on their colleagues, but with the prerequisite of reciprocal reliability.
Always communicate, never disappear without prior notice, and be ready to help your colleagues.
It's always better to communicate too much than too less.
Breathe Before You Act
It's easier to make hasty decisions when things seem downhill.
The lack of emotional proximity can sometimes make us hastier to act, to fire someone, or even start viewing someone differently.
However, the key here is to step back, breathe, and evaluate the situation calmly.
This calmness and patience are even more crucial in a remote setup due to the ease with which misunderstandings can arise, often due to simple reasons like cultural differences.
Being a remote leader can feel
like playing a complex chess game
It's about observing, strategizing, and making moves only when necessary.
The best remote leaders know when to make their move, but more importantly, they know when to sit back and observe.