If you’re a virtual manager, you work in a landscape that is changing ever so quickly. New internet applications, new technology, and new social media sites pop up constantly and only add to the chaos. Working in a virtual environment means getting your team to embrace these constant demands and challenges, instead of resisting them.
This is a tricky thing to do.
You might have seen it all before. You’re ready to start a new project that you think is new and challenging—and you just know everyone else will feel the same way. After all, everybody likes learning something new that challenges their skills, don’t they?
You assign the tasks to your team, thinking they will embrace the challenge. The project may even start out well, but then everything unravels. Some team members miss their deadlines; others seem disengaged and disinterested.
What seems to be the problem?
As a virtual manger, your job is to give them work that challenges and inspires them to be their best, right?
Well, yes. And no.
Here’s the thing: In an ideal work environment, like at Goggle or Apple, the employees probably love trying new things and being challenged. In fact, if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t be working for Apple or Google in the first place.
Unfortunately, not every company can hire topnotch, self-motivated and resilient workers. Actually, there are lots of people that hate learning new skills and being evaluated for their performance.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, PH.D, says that these people have a “fixed mindset”. She argues that people either have one of two mindsets: a growth or a fixed one. The person with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence, creativity, skills, and personality are set in stone—that they cannot be changed. A fixed mindset employee hates being tested and evaluated, because if they were to be judged poorly, they would feel like a hopeless failure.
The person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that learning, progress and practice are the keys to success. They believe that their skills and intelligence can be developed and nurtured. If they fail at some task, it’s not because they are flawed or incapable of doing it right, it’s simply because they didn’t try hard enough.
The amazing thing about growth mindset workers is that they embrace challenges and learning new things. Sounds like the kind of worker you’d want on your virtual team!
Well, you’re in luck, because your whole team can develop a growth mindset. It just takes caring on your part to communicate that you’re behind them all the way, that you want to see them grow and learn and fulfill their potential.
So, how do you encourage your team to take on a growth mindset so that they love learning new things and embracing challenging work? Follow these two tips:
1. Let your team know that it’s okay to struggle and that nothing worth doing comes easy. Reassure them that struggling is a sure-fire sign they are learning and growing and uncovering hidden potential in themselves. Often when we struggle, we keep it to ourselves so that nobody thinks we’re unfit for the job. You want to banish all those feelings of shame and embarrassment from your work environment. Encourage your team to take on challenging tasks without making them hesitant. If your team is fearful of making mistakes, they’ll most likely play it safe rather than explore and take chances with their work. Pushing the envelope without fear of failure is how breakthroughs are made and goals are accomplished!
2. Frame criticism as something positive. When you evaluate and criticise a team member’s work, let them know you’re simply showing them where they can improve and what they should focus on. When you frame your criticisms in a positive way, your team will trust and stick up for one another, as opposed to playing the “blame game” when a project starts to derail. Your team will learn to take full responsibility for both their triumphs and mistakes, because you’ve assured them that making mistakes is a part of learning.
How do you encourage your virtual team to embrace new challenges? Let us know in the comments below! We love hearing from you!