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How To Weather A “Storm?”

True leaders understand that when you’re leading a remote team that success and failure depends on your ability to get your teams to a place of:

✔ Shared Understanding ✔ Shared Purpose ✔ Shared Identity

Teams these days face a rather unusual situation: new hires are expected to develop working relationships with people they’ve never met in person.

Onboarding, celebrations, and collaboration are tricky enough done virtually.

What’s really challenging are those tense, but critical, moments in a team’s existence, like disagreement, tough feedback, or difficult conversations around structural issues.

Enters “Virtual Storming.” 😉

Many teams “fall apart” at this stage and most leaders disregard issues rather than resolve, but understand this, kicking the can down the road is not feasible and eventually things will fall apart.

Successfully navigating the “storming” phase builds real trust and defines how the team will work together.

“Storming” isn’t exactly easy in person. We get misunderstood all the damn time on LinkedIn so imagine managing a team virtually? 🤣

It is easy to misread tone from Slack or email messages, and hard to read body language on Zoom (especially because facial expressions are vaguer than you think).

That’s if you’re watching the other person at all because let’s face it most of us are watching ourselves on Zoom. Am I right?


 

If you’re struggling through virtual “storming,” try the following:

𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐬 Be explicit about how you like to work and communicate, like saying “I’m a manager who appreciates when this happens…”


At my 1–1s I’ve started asking questions like: “How do you prefer to receive feedback?” “What does it look like when you disagree?”

Shocker! It helps to have open conversations with your team.


 

𝐅𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬 When you reach an issue that could get heated, keep it structured and ask someone to play the role of mediator. It keeps you neutral. Set an agenda in advance so everyone has time to prepare, keep the discussion focused, and set a time limit so people can’t get off track.



𝐁𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟-𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐞 If you’re the leader, be especially cognizant of the norms you’re establishing. Do you need to step back, or be more directive? How do you respond when someone shares bad news or an idea you don’t like? People will take their cues from you. Being aware of your style is always a challenge, so solicit feedback from those whom you know will tell you the truth.



H𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 The fastest way to speed up the storming phase and get to “norming” is by setting aside explicit time for the team to reflect on how they work together and decide on ways they’ll adapt, evolve and improve.



Remember that we choose to align with people based on the way they make us feel. Therefore we’re more likely to follow leaders who make us feel strong, powerful AND VALUED.

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