What is the most important asset your company has? Your employees. Without them, your customers don’t get the products or services to solve their needs. Meaning, your employees are the foundation of your business.
Yet, as work from home (WFH) becomes commonplace, keeping your WFH employees delivering their highest results can be a challenge. Too many distractions and lack of in person collaboration can leave employees feeling disconnected or apathetic about team goals.
Whether you lead a team of one or one hundred, here are the 5 key steps you can take to ensure your in-office and WFH employees know they are a valued member of the team and are always empowered to do their best work.
1. Set Bold Goals
2. Create a Culture of Trust
3. Remove Roadblocks to Get Peak Performance
4. Celebrate the Wins
5. Create Opportunities to Learn and Grow
Set Bold Goals
Setting a vision for your business and for WFH team members is one of the most important steps in great leadership. In order to accomplish big goals, people need clear guidance on what those goals are and why they matter.
Steve Jobs, the former Apple CEO, famously said, “I want the future. I want it fast. I want it now.” If you want to be a great leader and inspire your employees, set a bold vision for your business and then tie it to your employee’s role.
To keep WFH employees feeling connected, lay out bold yet achievable goals for each quarter and stretch goals for the full year ahead. Feel free to push them in ways with which they may feel is possible, as long as you’re willing and available to help them succeed. Review these goals at least once a month to support their progress.
Create a Culture of Trust
In the workplace, trust can be a very powerful tool for managing a team, improving morale, and making significant progress. If your employees feel that they can trust you, they are more likely to follow your direction, and more likely to be productive. This becomes an issue for WFH home employees who face feeling isolated, which can erode trust across teams. Two of the most effective ways to avoid isolation and to build trust is feedback and communication.
As a leader, be open and direct, yet supportive and encouraging. Your employees do not need to be nurtured as if they were children, nor should they work in fear because your communication is overly negative or demanding.
Start by including time in your weekly or bi-weekly meetings with individual team members for constructive feedback. First, start with asking thoughtful questions and listening for obstacles to their success. Listen with empathy. Then, provide direct, supportive guidance on how the employee can keep contributing their most valued work.
Finally, communication and feedback should always be a two-way dialog. Employees thrive when they know that their voices are being perceived and acted upon. The better employees communicate with you and one-another, the better the organization will be. Continuously reinforcing this culture of trust and respect is an essential aspect of leadership.
Remove Roadblocks to Get Peak Performance
The world of work today is changing faster than ever before. WFH employees are pressured to work more, complete more tasks and achieve more in less time. But, to achieve these things, employees will find themselves often feeling stressed, overworked and overwhelmed.
At the same time, this dilemma creates a powerful opportunity to lead and influence in the workplace. As a leader, look for signs your team members are getting pulled in too many directions, keeping them from focusing on their goals. Ask WFH employees about their work environments in the home. Are they getting multiple periods of uninterrupted time throughout the day? If not, what changes need to happen?
Beyond their work location, are there frequent roadblocks caused by tools, processes, customer objections, or co-worker relationships that you can improve? Finally, look for signs that a roadblock is not self-imposed, stemming from a lack of confidence within the team member themselves. In these cases, use intentional guidance to help him or her develop the confidence needed to excel.
Celebrate the Wins
Who among us does not like to be recognized for your hard work and great results? Recognition is another awesome strategy for boosting WFH employee’s confidence and excitement to do more. Knowing you did a great job is one thing, but hearing leadership share it with the entire company or team gives a boost that inspires us to keep pushing ourselves.
The great news – accolades are free! Not every organization can hand out big bonuses for key goals being met, but that does not mean you shouldn’t celebrate. An email blast, post on the internal website, or public shoutout at the next team meeting can all be very effective ways of recognizing a job well done.
One important note: Be sure to call out the team where appropriate. In many situations, though one team member may have carried the ball over the goal line, they have a team of support folks helping throughout the journey. Recognize key contributors or coworkers that went above and beyond to help. This provides a blueprint for others to follow.
Create Opportunities to Learn and Grow
According to a Gallup Study, 90% of employees would rather work for an organization that encourages learning, development, and growth than one that does not. In fact, employees who feel they can learn, develop, and grow at work are 31% less likely to leave the organization.
Organizations that encourage employees to learn, develop, and grow are considered more attractive places to work. People yearn to grow, meaning that organizations that know the value of continuous learning will thrive. As WFH employees can often feel they could work for any company, your focus on learning and development can be a valuable tool in retaining the best contributors.
Encourage team members to cross train, find mentors in new fields of interest both inside the company and out, or strive for new certifications that will make them more valuable employees. As a leader, you can keep this spark of learning glowing bright within your employees. Your organization and your customers will reap the benefits from it.
Inspire your employees to achieve more
Great leaders inspire greatness in those they lead. You have everything you need to build a great place to work, even when that work is from home. You know your team better than anyone, so don’t lose sight of what motivates WFH coworkers to do their best work.
Set bold goals that align with your overall vision and challenge your team to be strategic contributors in that vision. Cultivate a culture of trust through routine and predictable communication and supportive and actionable feedback. Keep an eye out for roadblocks that stand between your team member and her bold goals. Celebrate milestone accomplishments in public ways. Finally, provide many ways for an employee to level up his growth and learning.
Virtual employees want to feel like they can be themselves, that they have the tools to do their best work and have the support of their leadership. Work from home employees still what to be inspired in the same ways as those who come into the office. Employees who are inspired are happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company. As a leader, keep your team members inspired, and they will inspire your business for years to come!
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