A Senior Leader's Role in Leading Change Remotely
Written by Susie Taylor
We’re leading through unprecedented change today. It’s likely that your organization was already changing rapidly and is now adapting to new ways of working to support employees during uncertain times. Because effective sponsorship is the number one predictor of change success, your role as a leader is even more critical.
Tips for Sponsors
As a leader, you set the tone for the organization. Although circumstances may change, your role as a sponsor still requires you to fulfill the ABCs: actively and visibly sponsoring change, building coalitions of support, and communicating directly with employees. Here are some practical tips for fulfilling your role as a leader of change in a largely remote or hybrid work environment.
1. Actively and visibly sponsor change
- Make yourself available to help quickly resolve broad issues related to remote working, including technology decisions, the need for flexibility, and prioritization.
- Be proactive in helping your team prioritize their work by determining what is most important and what can wait or be paused.
- Ensure that your presence is felt. Consider increasing your video presence during team meetings and use other platforms, such as Yammer, to increase your virtual visibility.
- Encourage your employees to take care of themselves, take advantage of the resources available to them, and to be flexible. They need to hear from you that working will look different right now and that it's OK.
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2. Build coalitions of support
- It is especially important for employees to see leaders unite during intense and challenging times. Connect with your peers to provide unified messages and decisions to employees.
- All leaders need a support system during challenging times. Stay in touch with your fellow senior leaders to maintain connection and offer support.
3. Communicate directly with employees
- Employees look to you to understand why change is important for the business. They need to hear from you frequently, especially during intense times. Be sure to communicate the “why” when announcing new changes, even if those changes are coming rapidly.
- In ever-evolving situations, strive to be authentic with employees about the difficulties of situations. Demonstrate empathy about the fact that everyone is facing challenges, and commit to supporting your team through the uncertainty.
- As much as possible, make sure employees can see you during important communications. Record and share videos, even if they are not fully polished or professional, to connect more with employees.
- Communicating with a fully remote team will look different. The best thing you can do is call. It’s easy to rely only on email and instant messaging, but regular video chats or voice calls with your team are essential to maintaining the human connection you need in remote environments.
- Increase your live connection points, even if they’re short.
Leaders Set the Tone
Sponsoring a change successfully requires leaders to fulfill a specific role—and sometimes that role is not obvious. Remember, during intense and uncertain times you set the tone for your organization. When you fulfill your role as a leader of change by practicing the ABCs, you can help your organization and people adapt in a rapidly evolving business climate.