As lockdown continues, CEOs need to stay ahead of the curve and adopt the latest leadership and technological tools to keep remote workforces connected and happy. Beat the FaceTime fatigue, win over your workforce.

By now, your remote workforce is in the habit of setting up Zoom meetings, initiating Google Hangouts and tapping away on Slack. It is up to business leaders to keep staff motivated. CEOs, scroll down to discover the top five personality traits you need to hone to help staff hit peak productivity and keep their spirits up, as well as top tech tips from fellow CEOs.

Be the best remote CEO

Hogan Assessments carries out personality tests for leaders; it has narrowed down the five main personality traits of an effective virtual leader. Its chief science officer, Ryne Sherman, says, “Decades of research on effective leadership tell us that the best candidates to lead a remote workforce are well-adjusted, ambitious, open to new technology, strong communicators, and deeply compassionate when it comes to supporting vulnerable employees.” You can find out more about Hogan Assessments’ personality tests here and the different scales it measures as part of its testing process.

1. Adjustment

Sudden change can stress out employees. Hogan Assessments’ adjustment scale measures an individual's stress-tolerance, optimism and composure in the face of sudden change. These leaders motivate their team to keep working, reduce panic & adapt to change. Action: Remain calm, level-headed and available during stressful periods.

Chris Thurling, executive chair of Armadillo, a customer relationship management agency 

“Working from home starts with a daily all agency video check-in at 9am via Google Hangouts. This gives everyone the chance to say good morning, see each other’s faces and share key information. The week also ends with drinks over a Friday afternoon video roundup, as it would in the office but remotely.”

Try The Daily Kick-Off from team events company, Wildgoose. Guided by a facilitator, this upbeat, creative challenge encourages staff to shoot motivational photos and videos in their own home, focused around boosting morale in the weeks of isolation ahead. The photos and videos are saved into a presentation for your team to share – one to look back on.

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The Daily-Kick Off challenge from events company, Wildgoose

2. Interpersonal Sensitivity

Remote work can be lonely. Interpersonal sensitivity measures tact, communication style and relationship-maintenance skill. Leaders that score highly for this trait are diplomatic, warm, friendly and avoid conflict with employees. Action: Phone and check in with employees daily, without micromanaging or pressuring them about deadlines. Be approachable and listen to employees’ questions, especially for new hires who require additional support. 

Chris Griffiths, CEO of OpenGenius 

“I find Ayoa to be the most useful because it combines all the areas teams need to do good work. Managers can view and track the work of their teams from a bird’s eye level (which minimises the need for micromanagement!), and team members can stay on top of tasks and talk to each other in chat.

“The Mind Mapping element is what separates Ayoa from other task management tools, it gives employees the space to be creative and capture ideas in video meetings. I personally feel that creativity is one of the things almost everyone, regardless of job role, finds stimulating and fulfilling. So, weaving it into the work process with Ayoa in this way helps to keep teams happy and in touch while working remotely.”

3. Ambition

The virtual workplace can be demotivating, with some employees lacking direction. This can lead to chaos, as workdays become less defined and productivity becomes harder to oversee. Ambition measures an individual’s competitive drive, perceived energy and goal-orientation. Leaders scoring highly on ambition are highly self-confident, and exude high energy and drive to employees. Action: Allocate time and energy into re-defining activities, goals and deadlines. 

Patrick Joggerst, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of business development, Ribbon Communications 

Use a task tool like Asana, Base Camp, or Microsoft Teams to track actions. It’s easier for you and your team to man. Ribbon’s Work@Home package, which delivers advanced remote working capabilities to enterprises and contact centres of any size, is now available free of charge.”

4. Inquisitive

Team meetings are now video calls, quick questions become instant messages. Hogan Assessments’ inquisitive scale measures a leader’s idea-orientation and openness to new ideas, including new tools and technology. Leaders scoring highly on this scale are imaginative, interested in new tech and curious about inventive ways to solve problems. Action: Be an early adopter. Welcome tech that makes life easier for your employees. 

Pete Watson, CEO, Atlas Cloud

Anyone without a device at home can ask to procure one and have it shipped to them. While some have company devices, we’re mostly embracing BYOD with some of the team working as efficiently as ever even using their old laptops, all thanks to the power of the cloud. Our Service Desk VoIP is also routed to their mobiles to eliminate any potential disruption. We’re proud to say that we’ve just had our busiest ever month.”

5. Altruistic

Workers may be feeling uneasy or fearful. Altruism measures an individual’s desire to help others and contribute to society. Leaders scoring highly here prioritise their team’s well-being, support those in need and unite employees. Not every employee is in the same boat. Action: Be empathetic, even in lieu of face-to-face interaction, and mindful of employees’ well-being and capacity to work remotely. Consider each employee’s personality, health and personal circumstances, to guide decisions on how best to manage them remotely.

Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst at RedThread Research

“The pandemic has forced physical isolation for employees around the world. Business and HR leaders have an opportunity to step up to help prevent social isolation as well. Products, such as Workhuman Cloud, that give employees a sense of connection, belonging, and progress while delivering an emotional impact can help reinforce that we are all in this together. There is no better time than now to recognise the humanity in all of us.”

Workhuman offers companies digital solutions that help them connect with employees and congratulate them on milestones such as first days at work, promotions and work anniversaries. For example, it offers technology to memorialise group experience like team celebrations and charity days.

James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO and Chairman at Jefferson Frank

“We've set up a virtual book club, implemented a pen pal system so employees can get to know a colleague who may be halfway across the world, and we're putting out a weekly newsletter on SharePoint that shines a light on good news from across the company, shares useful resources like apps and podcasts, and offers work-from-home tips. 

“We also have a monthly business review that usually takes place in a local bar. Now we do it online via video call and PowerPoint. This way we can still do all the things we normally do like sharing results and celebrating outstanding performances.”

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Set up a virtual book club to help your staff relax and stay connected 

Further information

Check out these podcasts to hear how other CEOs are navigating the coronavirus crisis and for useful tips on helping staff remain connected and in good spirits.

  1. Financial Times podcast: Running a small business during a global pandemic. Mauren Pereira’s drapery business was on track for its most financially successful year to date, until the coronavirus outbreak. The FT’s Behind the Money reports on how Mauren is navigating the current economic crisis. With Brendan Greeley, the FT’s US economics editor.
  2. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: Business Survival in the Age of COVID-19. Peter Cheese, CEO at CIPD, David Frost, Director of organisational development at Total Produce and Jaimini Lakhani, director at Lumiere Consulting explore how organisations can respond to the coronavirus crisis, and how to support your workforce through this difficult period.
  3. Money Talks: The Business of Survival. The Economist weekly podcast with host Patrick Lane examines how businesses that survive the pandemic will need to adapt to a new environment.

The coronavirus pandemic is challenging businesses more than ever before, but leaders that focus on these five personality traits can win over workers and keep up staff morale:

  1. Adjustment. What are your levels of stress-tolerance, optimism and composure like in the face of sudden change?
  2. Interpersonal sensitivity. How is your tact, communication and relationship-maintenance style?
  3. Ambition. How high is your competitive drive, perceived energy and goal-orientation skills? 
  4. Inquisitive. How open are you to new ideas, like new tools and technology?
  5. Altruism. How much do you desire to help others and contribute to society?

Click here to learn more about Hogan Assessments’ personality tests and how they can help leaders progress.