Leading a Team Virtually

Renee Schmid DVM, DABT, DABVT
DVM supervisor, Senior Consulting Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology

Leading a team remotely can be a daunting thought if you generally work with everyone under one roof. This past year has stretched the creativity of leaders, as well as their staff, to limits most likely never thought were possible. The good news about leading remotely is that it can be extremely successful and rewarding when tackled correctly. A few key factors to keep in mind are: people are still people regardless of where their desk is located and effective leadership is still effective leadership regardless of where it is delivered from. Keeping these core factors in mind, we have to shift some of our focus on the obvious roadblocks; a new route of communication delivery and potential external distractions that may be impacting your team’s success.
Communication is important with any successful team. Communicating remotely often places technology front and center and raises the bar on our verbal communication. If the computer program, internet signal or phone system isn’t at its best, conversations can be inconsistent and tensions can increase due to frustration. Ensuring that all aspects of your system are functioning at their best will help keep those involved on task and productive. Even with video conferencing, much of the non-verbal communication, such as visual cues, is dampened or even lost. Ensuring that your verbal delivery is clear, concise, intentional and accurate will help to keep your staff engaged and understanding the topic of discussion. Communicating with staff more frequently is an ideal way to replace “break room” chatter and reminds your staff that they are still a part of something bigger than their temporary workspace.
More than ever, professionals are working from home while also caring for or attempting to educate their children. Even with other caregivers helping at home, distractions are inevitable. Recognizing the potentially stressful environment and offering words of encouragement, modifying someone’s schedule or adding a few more breaks during the day, can help your staff handle the stressors and be more clear-minded and successful while working. Staff who work remotely can often be more productive in many situations since they are lacking the normal workplace distractions. Adding in a few more breaks through the day is unlikely to decrease their overall productivity. These simple gestures reassure your staff that you value their input on the team and that you are as committed to their overall well-being as you are to the overall success of the company.

Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT, DABVT
DVM supervisor, Senior Consulting Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology

Dr. Schmid has been been with SafetyCall since 2013. For the last four and a half years, she has been the supervisor of 27 veterinarians located around the United States. Her ability to lead the veterinarians virtually has been a major asset to SafetyCall and Pet Poison Helpline!

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