Business Mentoring & Coaching

Business Mentoring & Career Coaching
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It's easier to manage and lead a team when everyone is in front of you, and you can see what is going on more clearly. Yet, with the change to hybrid and remote working showing signs of continuing, it's essential to brush up on the skills of leading remotely. Of course, there are challenges, and here we take a look at what they are and what you can do to overcome them.

Setting clear expectations

Don't assume that just because expectations in the office were clear this is the case for home or hybrid workers. You may need to give more direction and guidance, especially when it comes to what you expect when it comes to responding to communications and attending virtual meetings.

Avoid micromanaging. Instead, empower your team's belonging and accountability, so they take responsibility for getting the job done without you.

Managing productivity

Whilst remote working can improve productivity for many workers; others will struggle. They may find it difficult to keep focussed and productive with home distractions and a lack of direct in-person supervision. Set realistic goals and innovative ways to track working time and progress to help keep them on track. 

You may also face the challenge of aligning expectations of those in the office with remote workers to manage perceptions and ensure resentment over production or perceived lack of it doesn't build. Keep everyone in the office and home up-to-date on who is responsible and doing what.

Communicate regularly

With the ability to integrate and discuss matters freely around an office, it's essential to make time for engagement and communication with those working remotely, and these tips may help. Set aside some times of the day when you are free to engage in short sessions with remote employees to catch up and share your calendar to let them know when you are available.

Cohesive teams

It can be challenging to treat both on-site and hybrid workers equally, but it's essential to make everything as fair as possible. Differences can cause teams to break up through resentment and will affect productivity. Find ways to include remote workers if you provide free snacks or meals during meetings to office-based employees. Find ways to extend flexible working hours to remote workers if it's a benefit afforded to on-site workers, or recognise that remote workers do not have the travel hassles of their office-based colleagues. There are no hard and fast rules but you should seek to remove any bias.

Social interactions

Remote workers are at risk of social isolation, and loneliness is one of the most common complaints, especially from those who had transitioned to home working when they previously came to your office each day. So it's essential to be mindful and make ways to include socially those at home, grab a virtual coffee together and chat about things that aren't work-related as you would over a typical office coffee break. Open a chat channel that is fun and is more about inclusion and socialising than work, listen to the concerns of both those in the office and at home, and be sure to follow up, just as you would do if everyone were together. 

Lastly, lead by example. The easier and more pleasant you make it, the more work everyone is likely to get through. Perhaps learn how to become more productive yourself and share insights and experiences with all your team members no matter where they are based.

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When it comes to leadership there are a number of very distinct styles that team leaders can often find themselves falling into. 

When you lead from the front, rather than from behind, this means that you are play a vital and active role in the day to day running of the company or organisation that you are working for. When a business leader adopts this style of leadership, they are actively choosing to be more engaged with the members of their team, their customers and the stakeholders who are actively involved with the operations “front line.” 

You can learn from those you lead

Being a leader is not all about you, its actually about the people that you lead, and they have a lot of valuable information to share with those who are willing to listen. A huge part of being a leader requires you to use great communication skills, this might be for talking to customers, stakeholders or even the members of your team. But communication is more than talking it is also about listening, and your team can be a great source of information and ideas if you are willing to listen to them. 

When you encounter a problem with something you are working on you might want to get the team together to work on finding a solution; this can often come from the most unexpected member of your team. In other words the members of your team can teach you things, but you have to be willing to listen to them. Interacting with your team, letting them see that you are also working on problems, and getting involved will help them to feel like their voice matters. When you choose to put barriers between you and your team; to create a “me” and “them” situations, and this is not effective leading.

Learning is constant

From the CEO of a company to the newest apprentice, learning is a continual process. You are always in a position to learn something new whilst you are working. It is also important to consider your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as well. These are the learning activities that any professional undertakes to enhance and renew their skills in the workplace. These are not just those skills linked solely to your role, they can also be your interpersonal skills as well and even the skills needed to use new software and technology. Continually improving your skills can help to keep you in the loop with developments that occur within your field, new innovations and methodologies that might help you to carry out your role much better.

When you create the right environment within your team and are not leading from behind it benefits everyone and there are opportunities for team member to learn from each other. It isn’t a sign of weakness when the team leader learns something from another person in the team but rather a sign of strength that can help to strengthen the team.

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A lot of people think that being a leader is something that either comes naturally or it doesn’t. However, this is not the case. You can teach yourself to be a good leader. A good leader is someone who is able to effectively overcome all of the different challenges they face. A good leader is someone who learns from mistakes so that they can make improvements going forward. With that being said, below, we are going to take a look at three major leadership challenges, as well as providing some tips on how to overcome them.

Keeping your team motivated and inspired 

As a leader, your team is going to look to you for motivation. It is up to you to make sure that everyone working for you is inspired. There are going to be moments whereby people do not feel motivated. You may notice that productivity levels have dipped and that your team does not seem as interested anymore. It is up to you to spot the signs of this. If your employees are unmotivated, look for ways to keep their eyes on the prize. You can break tasks down into smaller jobs and celebrate small wins. You may even want to consider team building activities. 

Managing people without micromanaging 

Leaders can often fall into the trap of micromanaging. This is something that is incredibly easy to do. However, micromanaging can cause employees to feel frustrated and they will assume that you do not trust them. At the end of the day, your team has been employed for a reason; they have the skills and qualities that are needed to succeed. Therefore, you need to delegate tasks effectively. Do not delegate them on a first-come, first-serve basis. Instead, think about who is going to be most suitable for the task at hand. 

Dealing with conflict 

Last but not least, there is no denying that dealing with conflict is one of the most challenging things that any leader has to do. It is healthy for people to have different opinions. However, there does get to a point whereby this spills over, and healthy conflict turns into unhealthy conflict. When this happens, you need to look for ways for conflict to be healthy and constructive. As a leader, you need to make sure that any sort of conflict is steered toward a positive resolution.

Final words on major leadership challenges and how to overcome them

Now, we’ve hopefully given you an insight into three of the most common and difficult leadership challenges. All leaders face challenges in the workplace, and there are going to be times when you do not handle them as effectively as you should. Rather than punishing yourself over this, you need to make sure that you take the time to assess the situation and learn where you went wrong so that you can make better decisions in the future. We hope that the advice provided above will help with this. 

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Managing conflict or arbitrating through disagreements is never the fun part of being a leader. Still, even the greatest leaders have to understand how to handle conflict and, wherever possible, prevent it or manage it in such a way that workplace morale and productivity isn't severely dented.

Conflict management is a crucial skill that every leader should acquire, and seeking mentoring, training and coaching services early in your career can help, as it can undoubtedly be challenging learning on the job.

Leadership and conflict management connections

Conflicts may not happen often, but you will undoubtedly lose the respect of your team if you don't handle it correctly. You may lose the confidence of your superiors if it is found that conflict is severely damaging output and morale. Promoting employee happiness benefits everyone; as a leader, understanding potential conflicts you may face and strategies to handle them will help you maintain workplace harmony

You are primarily likely to face two different conflicts occurring. The first is personality clashes and conflicts between individual team members, and secondly, the conflict team members have with goals or demands placed on them or the methods required to meet those goals. 

To achieve goals, the team must understand not only the destination but also the route to get there. You will see better cooperation and achievement if methods used to complete a project successfully can be agreed upon.

Success requires clear communication both from the leader and the team. One of a leader's primary responsibilities is to build a team that works well together and can handle differences of opinion without damaging the team's overall well-being and usefulness. Undoubtedly, a team will comprise varying personalities, which is often essential to identify the best possible outcomes. Too similar characters can leave great ideas missed, so as a leader, you must have the ability to recognise potential conflicts and resolve them quickly. Understanding conflict management will help identify possible causes and give a chance to resolve issues before they occur or provide ways to resolve existing conflicts to ensure the team dynamics aren't interrupted, and you keep a cohesive unit.

The benefits of sound conflict management for leaders

Even with differing opinions occasionally, a team that works together, successfully managing conflict, will achieve goals, develop strategies, and streamline processes more effectively if they are led well.

Look to assess the situation and only intervene when necessary. Some conflicts may resolve quickly without assistance. When a solution isn't forthcoming, or the conflict persists, it is time to step in.

Create guidelines. If it is clear that certain situations always cause conflict, try establishing rules that help respectful conduct or use error accountability that defines expected behaviours and consequences when things don't go to plan.

When you can recognise outside forces likely to cause conflicts, such as changes in work processes that may require additional support for some team members to adjust. In that case, you can establish a training program or offer support where appropriate to team cohesion. This may be enough to reduce the chances of conflicts occurring.

The essential tips for leadership conflict management are staying calm, impartial, and focusing on facts whilst maintaining boundaries. Set clear behavioural expectations and a way for team members to understand what a resolution looks like for each individual to enable the whole team to benefit.

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Virtual literally became a reality with the changes demanded of us through the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses quickly adapted to significantly reduced personal interaction levels and moved to video calls, meetings, and training by phone or video call.  For some, the benefits have been enormous and they see very little reason to return to old ways, so does this work for virtual mentoring?

Mentoring should support teams and individuals, which is even more critical when working remotely. The feeling of community is easily lost and individuals can suffer stress and feel isolated without it being noticed when they aren’t turning up to an office every day. The virtual world is one way to overcome this and mentoring can undoubtedly be as effective.

Virtual Mentoring Has Many Benefits Even Post-Pandemic

  • Location– remote mentoring immediately removes the location barrier. Virtual mentoring opens up the opportunity for relationships that would never happen in an office.
  • Time Efficiencies– No travel time and sessions can happen from anywhere, be scheduled more efficiently and cost less.
  • Less Social Pressure– Meeting with a mentor face-to-face can cause anxiety and nerves, especially for those with low self-esteem, which can inhibit some natural reactions and become a barrier to progress. Virtual mentoring can be a highly successful way of removing this stress to become a more comfortable and productive process. You can begin with phone calls and move to video calls at a pace that your mentee is comfortable with.
  • Multiple Mentors– Individuals can have multiple mentors through the new flexibility that virtual mentoring offers.
  • Quick To Put Into Action– Mentoring programs within offices tend to become large programs that take planning and big meetings. Virtual mentoring allows this to be scaled down and is much quicker to get up and running as a result.

Overcoming The Challenges of Virtual Mentoring

  • Forming A Connection Wherever possible, encourage participants to use video calls, even if they start without the camera. It gives the option to switch on the camera as you form a connection without changing the basic meeting structure. Make time for the social side and use icebreaker games to get to know each other and become comfortable. Understanding how to mentor an anxious employee can teach skills valuable to all virtual mentoring encounters. 
  • Reducing the feeling of isolation – Mentoring programs have a sense of community that needs to develop even more strongly in virtual mentoring, whether to an individual or a group. Schedule a webinar for those involved before the program’s official start, encouraging participants to feel part of something. Have similar milestone meetings throughout the program to celebrate achievements and progress.
  • Technical Difficulties– You are bound to encounter some technical difficulties, so have a backup plan that everyone understands. Disruption can derail the flow and become frustrating. Check connections are stable before you start and resort to a phone call to get back on track if you can’t fix the issue speedily.

Mentoring may never become entirely remote and there is, we hope, no reason for that to be the case. Still, it is undoubtedly a productive and valuable addition to mentoring services that we see staying around.