One day, many managers woke up and discovered that they now suddenly managed a team of remote employees. Effective remote workforce management is a critical component for success, but some management techniques are more effective than others.
Remote team managers want to maximize the opportunities and minimize the challenges of remote working faced by their virtual teams. Successfully supporting and managing remote teams is not only a vital part of your performance as a supervisor but also affects the overall success of your company. These useful guidelines for managing remote workers can make a big difference.
To help, here are nine useful rules to manage and support your team remotely.
1. Provide Clear Expectations
Clear expectations are critical for the success of any team, but it’s even more important to provide remote employees with an accessible, easily understood remote work policy. A well-designed remote work policy will improve everyone’s experience by establishing norms and defining processes and outcomes.
The remote work policy should help employees understand what to expect from their coworkers and themselves both, which is especially important for teams working asynchronously.
Remote workers may be used to having a flexible schedule. A solid remote work policy will help them respond to the established expectations.
2. Establish an Effective Communication System
Effective communication is required to get work done, whether your team is spread across multiple floors or multiple time zones. Good communication doesn’t happen magically, but rather has to be carefully and thoughtfully planned.
Ensure that your teams have the digital tools they need to stay connected and provide norms for how those tools are ideally used.
Video conferencing, voice calls, email, and instant messaging serve teams in different ways. You’ll need a method for file sharing and collaboration as well. A project management software is a beneficial tool for communicating as well, especially when a team is working on projects asynchronously.
In addition to communications software, your team will need established expectations and rules to prevent communication chaos. Providing standard protocols, such as the expected response time for replying to an email or instant message, as these kinds of communication rules help reduce a false sense of urgency. And of course, you’ll want to provide a standard operating procedure for communicating when something is actually urgent.
3. Provide Your Team with Tools to Succeed
One of the best roles the manager serves is to make sure that your team members have what they need to successfully complete their work. Tools for communication, strategizing, and project management that enable virtual teams to maintain productivity, even asynchronously, are constantly improving. These tools encourage an environment that balances employee collaboration, productivity, and satisfaction –which ultimately lead to profitability.
It’s not very helpful to have weekly video conference calls with gritty webcam pictures and garbled audio. Nor can your employees maximize their productivity on new, cutting edge tools without appropriate training.
Whether it’s training, software, or improvements to the equipment they use every day, having the right tools (and knowing how to use them) will make your team stand out.
4. Aim for Transparency
A sense of connectedness is absolutely necessary for any remote team’s wellbeing. To ensure that transparency is always present, take into consideration the following tips:
- Help your teammates understand and align with the culture, mission, and purpose of your company.
- Chat regularly. Have regular 1:1 meetings and replace the “big annual review” with lower-stress quarterly reviews.
- Regularly share news, client collaboration information, and customer feedback with your team.
- Encourage your members to speak their minds, to ask again if they haven’t understood assignments, and to be transparent and honest at all times.
5. Don’t Ditch the Regular Meetings
While holding regular meetings with your remote team might be quite challenging, especially because everyone’s in a different time zone, it’s worth the effort. It’s difficult, but not impossible.
Regular meetings are the best way to familiarize yourself with your team member’s knowledge, skills, mindset, and attitude. At the same time, your members can interact with each other on a regular basis, so strong relationships can be formed.
Of course, video is generally preferred for daily standups, weekly team check ins, quarterly company meetings, and casual online get togethers. However, it’s also important to recognize “video fatigue” and be respectful of your team members’ time and energy.
6. Schedule Private Coaching Sessions
As the manager of a remote team, you should frequently organize private coaching sessions. Regular 1:1 conversations will help you understand your team better, and give you an opportunity to help them grow.
Take your team members one by one and have a valuable conversation about:
- Performance of the employee
- Things that have gone well
- Things that could be improved
- Feedback on your performance as a manager
- Skill development planning
- Constructive strategies to improve productivity
In addition to regular 1:1 meetings, trade the annual performance review for a quarterly one and begin a cycle of continuous improvement and beneficial feedback.
7. Focus on Results, Not on Activity
Let your team understand that you’re looking for results, not for activity. There’s a big difference between being productive and busy, and all of your remote workers should clearly understand and respect that. Encourage results through rewards and discourage irrelevant actions that lead to no concrete results.
A successful result-focused approach also ensures that team members are aware of the consequences of their failure to provide results. For example, missing the deadline could be an unacceptable action that can lead to real consequences.
As a manager, you’ll serve your team well by providing an environment of transparency and accountability to ensure that your team performs as expected.
8. Encourage Proactivity, Creativity, and Innovation
Your employees should think and act on their own whenever they feel inspired. Innovation and productivity are two of the essential traits of any remote worker, as they can often positively influence the overall results of the team.
A bright mind should always be appreciated and encouraged to stay creative and proactive. Establish certain rules (back to that remote work policy!) but allow your employees to be flexible and to make various decisions on their own.
9. Invest in Employee Development
Successful remote teams can be built, using rigorous selection methods, and a careful assessment of knowledge, skills, and attitude towards work before hiring. However, you can also nurture the most successful traits of remote workers in team members who may not have started out that way.
Ideally, your remote teams will thrive if team members have focus and motivation. Your team will be more effective if you help nurture these traits:
- Work prioritization
You can do this by providing regular and ongoing training, coaching, and professional development opportunities. (And don’t forget that you too will benefit from management training and the same kinds of professional development yourself.)
Improving your remote team’s efficiency is a matter of knowledge and skill. As the leader or manager of a team of professionals, it’s your responsibility to keep the results steady and consistent. Therefore, keep improving yourself, help your employees do the same, and start creating high expectations while delivering rewards for great performances.
Take our tips and tricks into close consideration and watch your team thrive!