8 Tips for Managing Teams Remotely
If someone told you in 2019 that two years from now most of the world will be working remotely, you would have had your reservations. Managers would automatically assume that it could not work, because how would you ensure your team does what is expected of them; how would you motivate your team if you are not in the same room together? On the other hand, some people would have had concerns about time management at home or the availability of technical resources. Well, suddenly overnight, we were thrown into the deep end without being prepared and now, here we are, working as remote teams and we must simply make it work.
Remember that the strength of your entire team lays in the strength of each individual member. Although managing your remote team will require change and getting some used to, if you apply these few tips you will get your team members to excel.
1. Provide training. People are afraid of the unknown.
Your staff find themselves in unknown territory. They might have no idea what the rules of engagement are or what business etiquette to follow when meeting online. They might not know how to manage their time efficiently while working remotely or how to practice proper business writing. Invest in developing your staff’s skills throughout their remote work time by enrolling them in online short courses. Not only will this help them as well as the entire team to be more productive, but it will also show your employees that you care because you are devoted to them.
2. Communication is key to staying in touch and on top of things.
Do not allow your team members to get detached from you as manager as well as their fellow team members. Rather over communicate than not communicating at all. Schedule daily check-ins on a one-on-one basis as well as with the entire team.
3. Technology is your friend. Use it to your advantage when communicating and engaging with your staff.
Make resources available to your staff and educate them on simpler tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc. Make sure you stay on top of new and exciting software and tools that you can use to stay engaged with your team members.
4. Set out clear and reasonable deliverables, then focus on the outcome.
If your staff know exactly what is expected of them and by when you require it, it will align your team and get them focused. Deal with the fact that work hours have changed and that although you might not be there to navigate and control their every move, focus on the output rather than the input.
5. Accept new challenges and obstacles and find solutions.
Face it, this is a new ball game for us and yes, your staff will experience challenges differently. A lot of people do not know, for example, what the etiquette is surrounding virtual meetings. Everyone will also have their own set of obstacles to overcome like, for example, not being able to work in a separate study but working at the kitchen table. Rather than fighting this, accept each person’s problems and find workable solutions. Show your flexibility and adaptability as a manager.
6. Keep encouraging remote social interactions.
Remember that your team was used to seeing each other at the office daily. This was part of their human interaction and socialising. A lot of people underestimate how working remotely can increase the feeling of isolation. Promote remote social interactions and find innovative ways to stay in contact socially virtually.
7. Show your Empathy and use Emotional Intelligence when managing remote teams.
Offer emotional support. Panic and chaos can cause the team a lot of harm if you as a manager don’t deal with each person’s fears, worries and problems with empathy. People experience change differently. Some are easily adaptable while others might first need to be eased into the situation. Listen to their fears and try to keep that in mind while leading your team with emotional intelligence especially when working remotely.
8. Become their mentor and coach.
Now more than ever, your staff needs a ‘go-to-person’. Someone they are not afraid of. Someone they can rely on for guidance and help. Praise them regularly and give them quick and honest feedback but in a positive way. Build on their strengths and nurture your relationship.
Although separated currently but brought together by technology, make it your main priority to become a virtual team that will excel and achieve great things together. Working remotely is here to stay in the new normal businesses face. It is your responsibility as a manager to keep evolving and adapting in order to guide and assist your team to do the same. For all your training requirements, partner with someone you can trust and who tailors courses according to your team’s needs.