Building resilience in your virtual team
When it comes to leading your virtual team, mental health might not be the first thing on your mind. However, in this new world of isolation and economic decline, it’s more important than ever to be aware of your employees’ psychological states, in addition to maintaining productivity and team relationships. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that almost half of Americans reported the COVID-19 pandemic was negatively affecting their mental health.
As a manager, you have an impact on your employees’ mental health.
Even though you’re not in the same room or building, there are many ways to reach out through virtual channels to bring your remote team a sense of optimism and hope. Here are a few tips to help you keep your remote team on track and on the bright side.
- Keep your team connected—with you and with each other.
- Strive to make exceptions during an exceptional time.
- Build a sense of community and purpose.
- Provide opportunities for learning and enrichment.
- Challenges often create growth and new opportunities.
1. Keep your team connected—with you and with each other.
In this strange and trying time, it’s important that managers provide extra emotional support for their employees. When you lead team meetings, be sure to make time for friendly chitchat and check-ins, rather than going straight to business, so you can get a read on how everyone is feeling. In addition to your regular video or conference calls, reach out to individual team members. This could mean an old-fashioned phone call just to see how things are going, or more formal one-on-one check-ins to hear employees’ work-related and personal issues. As a manager, you’re in a unique position to understand and help provide support.
Consider setting up a buddy system so employees can check in on each other on a daily or weekly basis. This can be helpful especially to employees who may have a harder time interacting in online groups.
2. Strive to make exceptions during an exceptional time.
Maybe this means delaying performance reviews. Perhaps you give your employees a more flexible schedule so they can take time in the day to get outside, meditate, or spend time with their families. Make room for your employees’ added challenges during the quarantine. Whether they have children at home full time, care for elderly family members, or have other living considerations, people may need extra time to finish projects. As a manager, you can listen to what their new constraints are and work to provide space and support.
3. Build a sense of community and purpose.
Happiness is helpful, but resilience leads to long-term mental health. A successful remote team is made of people who feel a sense of purpose and can remain hopeful, even in a time of great loss. As a manager, you can help to build this optimism and keep your team centered and mindful.
Organize a team volunteer effort or a fundraising drive. This could be one big event or an ongoing commitment. There are so many possibilities in this crisis to help the community. From sending cards and letters to senior care facilities, to organizing online tutoring for refugees, to reading bedtime stories to children via video chat, these opportunities can all be completed remotely. If your company has the means, offer to match employee monetary donations or compensate employees for volunteered time. Charity Navigator offers this cultivated list of highly-rated nonprofits that are currently bringing relief to communities negatively impacted by the pandemic.
4. Provide opportunities for learning and enrichment.
Your team could take an online learning course together. This could be a class to build new job-related skills in areas where it might be needed (such as how to communicate effectively while working remotely). Or, it could be something unrelated to work, like crafting, gardening, or an energizing activity like Zumba.
5. Challenges often create growth and new opportunities.
Out of crisis comes positive change. History has proven that after a war, a tragedy like September 11th, or a personal illness, many people have a greater appreciation for life or find a new sense of purpose. Lead your team in this direction and you’ll find connection and success that last long after this pandemic has ended.