I recently had the honor of sitting on an ASCE virtual panel called “Leading Teams and Fostering Relationships in a Virtual Environment.” You can watch the replay of the webcast here.

Following the panel, I posted a discussion on ASCE Collaborate asking for feedback from members, and I wanted to share some specific feedback and advice provided by Mitch Winkler, P.E., M.ASCE, a retired senior leader in the oil and gas industry in Houston, with his permission.

Mitch identified three keys to leadership in a virtual environment based on his own experience of leading virtual teams.

1. Face-to-face time

Mitch cites face-to-face time, even limited, as a key factor to success. The investment you make in engaging with staff on a one-on-one basis pays off in huge dividends when it comes to virtual working and meeting. Mitch states, “This was an opportunity to get to know them [staff] and for them to get to know me and my style of working.”

2. Consistent meetings

Mitch also cited regular meeting times as being extremely useful to successful virtual leadership. He utilized an agenda for each meeting which he created after seeking topics from all participants in advance. Regarding a well-thought-out agenda, Mitchell stated, “This would focus the conversation and allow us to shorten or lengthen the meeting time as appropriate and help me ensure they were working on the right things.”

3. Ask about challenges

Third, Mitch would always be looking for or asking his team about issues that were creating obstacles or taking a lot of time away from the pursuit of their goals. He would brainstorm solutions with his team to try to resolve these issues or do so himself if they fell within his area of expertise.

I believe that this pandemic, regardless of how long it lasts, will change the way we work and increase the number of virtual meetings we participate in, for the long term. I felt that Mitch’s three-step framework was simple and effective. I am glad he shared it. You can find the discussion here if you’d like to add to it.

Anthony Fasano, P.E., F.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Management Institute (previously known as the Engineering Career Coach), which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast and he is the author of a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills by clicking here.

He has also started the Engineering Management Accelerator to help engineers become more effective managers: www.EngineerToManager.com.