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Leading Remotely: The First 90-Day Guide

Research by the CEB shows that a staggering 60% of new managers fail within the first 24 months of their new position. Ultimatsuccess within a role can often be predicted accurately by the success or failure of the first 90 days of a new management role. 

Navigating a new team when in a remote work environment requires a higher degree of detail, attention and execution in order to be effective in the first three months as a new leader. Employees and executives also demand a greater deal of trust while operating teams remotely, without the ability to work alongside and become familiar with new leaders as they might while in person 

In Part I of our series, we outlined how a leader joining a new company virtually can excel in their first 30 days. To complete the first 90 days successfully, leaders must focus on evaluating productivity gaps and creating a forward-moving strategy to efficiently and effectively improve performance 

 

To read Part I, Stepping into Leadership Remotely: First 30-Day Guide, click here.  

 

Create a roadmap. 

After learning about the team and how they view themselves and their production in the first 30 days, the second 30 days serves as an opportunity to pinpoint gaps between their perception and performance. Begin to strategize how to fill these production gaps, noting where productivity is stunted and what parts of their processes can be streamlined.  

Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the team. Determine what skillsets are lacking and projects the team should prioritize. Perform a “role sort” to make sure every direct report is in a role that maximizes their talents and determine where existing skills gaps are. This can be done in conjunction with goal-setting meetings with employees, determining where each employee would like to dig in deeper, or if there is untapped potential within the team to consider. 

A manager’s 30/60/90-day plan while entering a new role provides a framework for goals and notes various milestones they are working towards in their first 90 days. Working with your manager, add detail to the 60/90-day plan’s strategies for achieving growth, including weekly goals and touchpoints to ensure long-term goals can be achieved. Present ideas for team improvement to leadership and gather feedback on what may be most effective. Ensure that all feedback is given face-to-face via video calls to help minimize miscommunication.  

Identify quick wins. 

A new leader needs to show their value fast, otherwise their manager may believe them to be ineffective. A quick win is a small improvement or success that is visible, has immediate benefit for the employee or team and can be executed quickly. The best quick wins for the first 90 days are easy to implement, inexpensive, sustainable and focused. These changes should be fully implemented within your first 90 days to help provide momentum toward long-term goals  

Quick wins for your staff allow them to see how your guidance and direction helped them achieve success, establishing trust. After shadowing employees in the first few weeks and analyzing productivity patternspinpoint minor updates or changes to procedures that can help remove roadblocks and improve productivity. This can help ease the team towards larger changes and establish trust in your leadership 

Implementing successful changes, big or small, also helps move the team incrementally towards long-term goals. Celebrate the small wins that result from the suggested adjustments. Highlighting progress to management and to the team early on can help create positive momentum and increase receptivity to new ideas.   

Establish accountability. 

In order to be successful in a position, virtual or not, employees need to know what they are held accountable to achieving, as well as how their performance impacts others. Confirm which processes will continue as normal, and which will be focused on for improvements.   

Setting expectations early can help establish accountability for each employee, however, this must be done in a way that also cultivates trust in the new leadershipAvoid conversations that come across as a long list of demands, rather, frame expectations in terms of the employee and team benefit in order to have a positive impact. Frame the role of leadership as supportive of their goals and professional development and remain consistent in messaging and reactions surrounding expectations.  

Conduct wellness checks. 

Remote employees are more stressed and isolated than ever, and yet 41% of remote employees stated in a LaSalle Network survey that their manager does not check in to see how they’re feeling. Employee mental health is closely related to productivity and engagement, meaning the decline in mental health can significantly impact a business’ bottom line. Working to create a safe space for the team and displaying empathy for employees can help managers support their people and cultivate a strong virtual community. 

Continue to check in with employees to gauge how they are adjusting to change and continue building rapport. While first impressions have been made in the first 30 days, consistency in building authentic relationships is especially important in cultivating a strong team dynamic. 

 Break down silos. 

Building relationships with colleagues across various departments can help provide valuable insight into the business. New leaders should connect with and learn from as many people within the organization possible, not only about their own department and how it fits into the organization, but also other departments and the role they play. Rather than wait for an introduction, take initiative to reach out to the other leaders and form a cross-functional relationship.   

Dig deeper into conversations with colleagues to further understand the business and unspoken norms. Also inquire about past successful and unsuccessful projects, and how the business has changed since the start of the pandemic. Leaders should integrate themselves into the culture and leadership strategy of the broader organization as quickly as possible to avoid being seen as ineffective or unaware.  

Reevaluate changes. 

Each organization and team has unique skills and challenges, and leaders must remain humble and honest with themselves and their supervisors about what does and does not work for the team. Leaders must be agile and adaptable while navigating teams through periods of transition and be willing to scrap ineffective ideas and pivot as needed. 

At the end of the first 90 days, leaders should be able to gather a wealth of information on the business, their team, and productivity patterns and implement effective changes Having a forward-focused and data-driven outlook on team potential can help the organization create lasting change and remain competitive in a challenging economic landscape, setting the tone for a powerful career trajectory within the organization.  

 

If building out your team is a part of your strategy, we can help. Contact us here. 

 

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