Dale Carnegie of Orange County | Improving Leadership Effectiveness

Leading Virtual Teams: 7-Steps to Hold People Accountable

Many businesses have proactively sent their employees home to work virtually during the current pandemic. This requires a heightened skillset when it comes to leading remote teams. Managers may not know how to hold their employees accountable. Some managers avoid situations that might upset an employee or be viewed as an awkward conversation. Sometimes, they just do the job for the struggling team member or redistribute the work to others on the team. This lack of holding people accountable results in the manager becoming the bottleneck to the team’s success and demotivates the team. During these times of change and uncertainty, it is critical that employees are held accountable to expectations in order to help the organization succeed.

Here are 7-steps to hold virtual people accountable:

Step 1:  Delegate. Assign tasks or projects based on not only what needs to be done, but also what the person needs in order to grow in skill and/or knowledge.

Step 2:  Determine. Figure out what tools or resources the remote person might need in order to be successful. Nothing is more de-motivating then to be given a task or project without the resources to be successful.

Step 3:  Define. Give a clear picture or definition of what needs to be accomplished and by when. Communicate the expectations in a clear concise manner, using SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-related), and then check for understanding. Keep the lines of communication open so that the person knows you are there to support them without taking away their authority to make decisions.

Step 4:  Document. Make sure you document in writing who, what, where, when, and why. Set times and deadlines in writing; using them as checkpoints along the way, while providing you a paper trail. This will be your working document to reference during project status meetings.

Step 5:  Demonstrate. If they ask you for advice, question them on how they would suggest handling the situation. It is tempting to jump in and make quick decisions, but you need to demonstrate the accountability has been shifted. Reinsure them that they are the right person for the job and the how is up to them. Of course, you will need to step in if it is truly an emergency that you must resolve.

Step 6:  Direct. Put the checkpoints on your calendar and direct the employee to do the same. When those points are reached on the calendar follow up on expectations and review the “who, what, where, when, and why” that was set in the document phase.

Step 7:  Discipline. In a virtual business, results are what matters. If someone is not accomplishing the results that are expected, then follow your company discipline policy. Performance can slip as soon as standards slip. As a leader, you must hold people accountable or the whole team will lose faith in your leadership.

Today more than ever it is important to hold your team accountable. Taking the time to use this 7-step process will show your employees they can count on your leadership even if you are not in the same location. This 7-step process will ensure your virtual team will stay productive and on track.

Learn more about Dale Carnegie Programs to help upskill your team.

Scroll to Top