COVID-19 Quarantine: Leading Remotely

Running a media ministry isn’t easy. Beyond the business side of raising support and paying the bills, there are the managerial duties of keeping things running and continually casting the vision to your team. It all can be quite challenging. Now, let’s throw into the mix a global pandemic with stay-at-home orders from your state government officials.


So, how are your remote leaderships skills? Have you ever led from behind a computer screen?


Our media network covers three states and four markets. I have staff members in each of the four markets. So, while I have some experience with remote leadership, I am by no means an expert. However, I have learned a few things over the past several years that might help you become a better remote leader during this time.


  1. Communication

Like in all teams, communication is key. It’s even more so remotely. While working remotely can make you more productive because of less interruptions, you have to purposefully organize your communication with your team. We continue to have our weekly staff meetings. So, instead of just our remote employees on the Zoom call, it’s all of us on the Zoom call. We’ve used Zoom or Skype over the years, but we seem to be utilizing Microsoft Teams more during these weeks of quarantine. It has great chat features and file sharing.


Another app that I use is Marco Polo. Think of it as video texting. So much can be missed with just a written text or email. We also have a private staff Facebook group that we use more for our air-staff to communicate important programming items. It might be necessary to add another weekly check-in time. I’m not trying to over-schedule or create death by meeting. This is just a quick check-in that replaces many “door frame” meetings that happen organically in an office setting.


  1. Technology

Coming alongside of the importance of communication is technology. Beyond all the ways we stay connected to communicate, it’s also important to use project management platforms. Our business underwriting team has their platform – Cloze, our donor development team has their platform – Blackbaud, and our sales-to-production-to-programming teams have their workflow platform – vCreative. We utilize Google docs and remote drives and clouds to have access to all our share files, keeping us connected to our data.


  1. Expectations

As a remote leader, you must establish and communicate a clear set of priorities. When COVID-19 exploded, I was teaching at a media summit in the Peruvian Amazon. I immediately called for a ZOOM meeting and focused my team on what are our priorities for today and the coming weeks, not knowing what tomorrow will look like or if I was flying back to the US in two days or the possibility of 12 weeks. With the shift to working from home, it is important for every leader to define what are the expectations for each team member. Sure, office hours are 8:00-4:30 on a normal day, but our days are no longer normal. So, you can’t expect your team members to have normal expectations. The priorities you set will help establish the expectations. Be honest, empathetic, clear and simple.


  1. Empower Your Team

We’ve been leading up to this one all along. Channels of communication and technology are in place. Priorities and expectations are established. Now, it’s up to you as a leader to empower your team. Empowerment begins with trust. I would hope that way before the stay-at-home orders came into being, trust was already a part of your relationship with your team. A team member who is confident they have a supportive and trusted leader feels empowered. There is now a new way of getting the job done. Trust your team to get it done.


  1. Team Spirit

The hardest thing in a crisis is self-care. As a leader you must care for your team and for yourself. You must be genuine, sincerely empathetic, and walk compassionately in the shoes of your team, but also your listeners, and your community. Continue to acknowledge their extra effort, praise them for not missing a step “at work” while also having the title of homeschool educator thrust upon them. It’s important to give everyone updates, highlighting achievements amongst the new complexities that we are all living.


Another important step is to give them “fellowship” time at staff meetings. They are missing their adult human interaction. They are missing their at-work relationships. Let them share about home life, new recipes, and funny stories. They miss living life together in the office.


Demonstrate your self-care as a leader as the example for your team. Establish habits of a healthy diet and exercise. Take that walk. Go outside, sit on the deck and listen. You’d be amazed at how quieter our world has become. Make sure you have enough energy, emotional reserves, and coping skills to take care of yourself. As you model your self-care, engage and motivate your team to develop their own habits.


So, leader, how are your remote leaderships skills? I suspect yours, like mine are improving with every quarantined day. Lead well and don’t forget your self-care.

Brian McIntyre
Ministry Director Shine.FM


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