The COVID-19 crisis changed many things in our lives, including how we work.

Team leaders and managers have had to learn new ways of working with their staff.  The challenges have included:  

  • How can the team be supported? 
  • What things can be done that will allow staff working remotely to collaborate easily with each other and meet goals? 
  • How to stay on track with the timelines to ensure successful completion of projects? 
  • How to ensure employees are taking the recommended breaks to avoid burnout?

These and many other questions are arising daily.

What should remote team leaders focus on?

For people to work successfully remotely, leaders need to focus on the following;

  • Staff:  For remote working to succeed, leaders need good workers that can accomplish their tasks effectively with little supervision.
  • Technology:  Since people can no longer meet in offices, technology such as video conferencing becomes necessary for effective communication. 
  • Structure: Working remotely is impossible if leaders do not establish functional structures through team building. A small group of people who interact well and report to a single leader works best. 
  • Processes: Taking care of tasks requires leaders to create the right remote work policies. A work dynamic without clear procedures to follow is a recipe for confusion, especially for people working from home.

When all these things are in place, leaders can use relational intelligence to co-ordinate their staff as they work from home. 

What is relational intelligence?

Relational intelligence is the ability of people in the workplace to connect with each other. It is essential for success in the workplace and requires emotional intelligence to achieve. 

In this unprecedented time, with many people increasingly working remotely, leaders need relational intelligence to organize their staff and ensure the success of an organization.

How to succeed in relational intelligence

The following aspects are necessary for leaders to succeed in relational intelligence.

1. Communication

An important aspect of remote working is communication. Before COVID-19, people used to have interpersonal relationships based on their daily interactions in the office. 

These interactions were essential in achieving tasks at work. Now, interactions have to be carried out virtually. 

However, it’s difficult to convey messages in the same way when there is no face to face communication. For example, when giving negative feedback due to a task gone wrong, it’s hard to convey the seriousness of a mistake using online communications.

Leaders can use relational intelligence in such cases to make things work.  

Understanding that workers now have other things distracting them will make communication easier. The main focus should be on getting a flexible schedule or arrangement that works for everyone to get things done.

The medium of communication matters too. While some people can teleconference, others may only be able to talk on the phone or via email. The trick is to find a middle ground where leaders can communicate with staff effectively. Apps like slack come in handy for this purpose.

2. Flexibility

Relating with staff when it comes to meeting deadlines, requires flexibility. 

Relational intelligence requires leaders to understand that working from home exposes staff to problems or other things in their life that distract them to the point that work may be delayed. For example, those that work from home have to deal with children. 

Remote managers should relate with staff in a way that shows they understand the challenges they face working from home. They may choose to be task based, as opposed to clocking in and out at a specific time.

3. Relationship building

In the past, staff could interact around the water cooler, during lunch, or even after work. Now, remote workers don’t even meet.

Leaders are also facing the same challenges when it comes to creating relationships with their workers that will translate to success at work assignments.

For example, even if people are working from home, leaders can run virtual meeting points that are not work-based where their staff can interact.

By sharing experiences such as how they are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, remote workers can bond in a way that will foster team spirit to aid in achieving tasks.

Leaders should also use relational intelligence to create good relationships with workers. Taking a few minutes to chat with staff about things that do not relate to work, such as their health, can create a valuable working relationship. It makes them feel like part of a team, which will translate to loyalty that will be reflected in their performance.

4. Problem-solving

It goes without saying that mistakes will be made at work. When workers are together in one place, challenges or problems that arise are easier to solve as people can easily consult each other. But, when everyone works remotely in different areas, it’s hard to get hold of each other. It leaves room for things to fall through the cracks. 

How you deal with these mistakes as a remote leader matters. Experts like the employment lawyers of New Jersey advise leaders such as company heads to  find a way of solving problems without upsetting work dynamics and adhering to workplace regulations.

For example, approaching issues with empathy, even when some disciplinary measures are necessary, will ensure your team continues to work successfully.

5. Planning ahead

As a leader, it is your job to look ahead and plan the direction that things will take.  

For example, with the current COVID -19 situation, some people may never go back to the traditional work setting. You have to ask yourself, once it’s no longer necessary to work remotely, will your staff continue to do so?  Or will you leave some at home and ask others to come to the office?  

Thinking of such issues will help you organize your people for a future that is well prepared for ( most likely, one that is virtually based). Instead of letting things happen, proactively prepare. 

As a leader, relational intelligence requires you to look ahead and plan on how to deal with upcoming challenges with your staff and their needs in mind.

Are you a remote leader?

These are a few tips you can use to ensure relational intelligence helps you manage remote staff effectively. Try them and see your work relations improve, team productivity increase and group goals met.

Author Bio: Christopher G. Aiello.  The law firm of Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. is proud of its nearly six decades of successfully representing clients with all kinds of legal matters throughout New Jersey. Since 1955, we have been providing strong representation and effective legal guidance to clients across New Jersey.


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