22nd June 2020

3 Steps to Successfully Lead Remote Teams

By Cariona Neary

Things fall apart the centre cannot hold. Commentators frequently invoke Yeats’ lines when describing a chaotic situation. Most of us have  emerged from those early chaotic days of converting our hospitality teams to 100% virtual. And we’re managing. Or are we? This new working world demands a different standard of leadership from us all. As we prepare to re-open for business, how can we help everyone feel part of a great team again?

The pressures on teams are considerable. As leaders, we need to create stability, managing both for well-being and results. Our hospitality organisations are seeking to build agility to survive and even thrive in a global economy that is struggling to function. Our team members are facing their own challenges, with home schooling, uncertainty about future employment and maybe even health issues. People in the hospitality business thrive on the buzz of interacting with colleagues and guests. For many, both leaders and staff,  the lack of personal interaction is truly challenging.  If you can show strong leadership in this situation, you can be assured that you will thrive in any situation!


Leading Remote Teams Successfully
The Challenge

People working remotely can become ‘detached’ from the team. How can we build that strong team spirit as we get ready to re-open our businesses?

The Solution

Spend time building up your virtual team goals. Be clear about roles and responsibilities. Keep everything short-term and focused. Look after both well-being and results.

Takeaway Actions

Use your new short term goals to stabilise your team. Communicate until it hurts! Build trust with lots of feedback. Communicate confidence in your team but also acknowledge the stress people are experiencing.

  1. Plan for Short Term Goals

Your plan will be built on some key pillars, regardless of whether you run a restaurant, hotel or bar: Staff needs, Customer needs, Cost control, New Revenue Streams, Redesigning requirements. You can plan around these pillars by taking a short term focus, for example, three-week sprints, assigning specific roles and responsibilities for team members to contribute during the sprint. Since the pandemic, research on remote teams has shown that roles and responsibilities are too unclear for many and this is leading to low morale. The ‘sprint’ approach can help you overcome this challenge.

  1. Communicate until it Hurts!

Remember that great phrase, you’re checking in, not checking up! Use daily Check Ins to help set people’s focus for the day. Listen for new ideas. Just because you’re the leader does not mean you have to have all the answers! A weekly call in from your most senior manager can help keep the team motivated. Each meeting format should be contributing to your Planning Pillars. Focus on providing lots of positive feedback to keep up people’s morale. After each sprint, celebrate, review, learn, reset.

  1. Show Confidence and Support in your Team

Supportive leadership will require a two-pronged approach. While you need to focus on short term results, you also need to acknowledge the real stress and anxiety that your people may be experiencing. Show your confidence in your team with phrases such as “Let’s look at our strengths here and see how we can build on those”, “What do our customers really love about coming here. How can we provide that feeling in this new environment?” “I know this is tough but we’re going to handle this together”…. By asking your team for their help and ideas you show confidence in your collective ability to work through this challenging time.

And to finish with Yeats, “All has changed, changed utterly”. Strong leadership can be a reassuring constant in these challenging times.

Cariona Neary is a trainer and consultant to the Hospitality sector working with Fáilte Ireland for over fifteen years as well as Ireland’s leading organisations in the hotel and restaurant sector. She has just completed a series of webinars, co-hosted with leadership expert, Karl O’Connor,  on Leading Change, Managing Remote Teams and Leading Service that Sells with the RHS Skillnet. The above article is based on her workshops on leading remote teams. For further information on any of Cariona’s webinars, contact Niamh O’Malley. All training  bookings can be made via: https://www.rhskillnet.ie/training-programmes/.

For further information on Cariona Neary visit www.nearymarketing.com or contact her at cariona@nearymarketing.com.


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