Managing a team is never easy, and the difficulty is compounded when you have to delegate, coordinate, motivate, and monitor, and perform all your managerial tasks remotely. Given the recent lockdowns, remote work has become a reality for more businesses now than ever before.
But whatever the cause behind our widespread adoption of remote work, managers in various industries face seemingly insurmountable challenges in managing teams remotely. As a manager, working remotely, there are certain tips you need to know to start managing effectively.
Here are some tips on how to manage a team remotely, so you can have an efficient team, a happier set of employees, and stellar results.
1. Stop micromanaging
Micromanagement is a management style marked by excessive oversight of the tasks delegated to the employees. But when working remotely, managers cannot just stop by at employees’ desks to check up on their activities. Setting up unnecessary meetings to address non-issues, texting your team incessantly, and emailing them every hour, only serve to distract your employees from work.
Although micromanaging in a traditional office setting is somewhat appreciated, but when working remotely, you need to let the reigns slacken a bit and give employees the room they need to take responsibility for their work.
However, management styles differ from industry to industry. Managing a corporate team is not the same as administering government staff. The differences in management styles are often chalked up to the intense mba vs mpa debate about whether or not one produces better managerial or administrative talent than the other.
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2. Set clear goals and expectations
Setting clear goals and expectations from the outset can help you manage your remote team more effectively. Before you delegate them any responsibility, set your expectations straight and let your team know about them in a meeting.
Make sure they understand that remote work does not mean exemption from the same level of scrutiny and responsibilities that someone working in an office has to experience. However, on the flip side, employees working remotely should not be considered any less of than the ones working in office.
The best way to manage a remote team is through setting clear and measurable goals. In addition to the results you expect from your team, make sure that you’re also communicating with them regularly, motivating them, and engaging with them just as much as you would with an employee in an office.
Use tools like Slack and Google Drive to help keep everyone on the same page regarding project developments and updates taking place real time. This shows that you care about them as much as you do about increasing the bottom line.
3. Encourage social interaction
To build rapport with the team members, socialize with them regularly and foster a sense of community and trust. When you encourage social interaction between team members, they will learn to see the big picture and invest themselves in work. Actively participate on communication platforms your team uses, answer queries, and address concerns whenever they arise. And most importantly, ask for regular feedback by asking questions, gathering responses, and following up with team members.
Reward your employees for the effort they put in. It doesn’t have to anything grand; just a thanks or a word of encouragement and appreciation can go a long way toward boosting your employees’ morale. Also, try to encourage your team to participate in remote group activities or team-building meets if possible.
4. Be empathetic
When giving feedback for work, don’t be overly critical, as that will only dishearten your employees. Identify the mistakes with an objective mind, relay them in a kind voice, and encourage them to ask questions. These things can go a long way toward building trust in the employees. Also, to avoid your messages and notes to reflect badly on you, check them for inconsistencies whether factual or grammatical. These minor errors reflect poorly on your ability to manage and also harms the organization’s professional reputation.
5. Facilitate assistance to employees facing technical issues
Troubleshooting technical problems remotely can be challenging. Having an in-depth knowledge of the nature of work, and of the softwares and systems involved, makes the manager the focal person for when an employee faces a technical issue. When faced with a problem, a manager can help arrange technical support, whether it is an in-house tech team or outside tech professionals, it is a managers job to address problems faced by employees in performing their responsibilities. A manager needs to have the tech people on speed dial, so to speak, so that they can resolve operational hurdles quickly so that operational delays can be avoided.
6. Set up regular meetings
Remote workers are harder to manage since managers can’t see them as often, which might lead remote workers to have gaps in their knowledge and cause them to miss important work updates and other work-related developments. Considering that you and your team live world’s apart, with no regular phone communication, you need to put in the extra effort to let them know about developments on a weekly or bi-monthy basis. Giving them a full briefing about the week’s reports, changes in operations, and specific client-related instructions, can go a long way toward minimizing delays caused by avoidable mistakes. If an employee is especially struggling to keep pace, you can schedule a one-on-one meeting to address their concerns, hear them about their problems, and encourage them with motivating words.
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7. Give flexibility
Working all day, sitting at the local café or at home, remote employees need time away to unwind. Being chained to the desk all the time can have detrimental health consequences that can be easily avoided by showing a little leniency from time to time.
If your employees have met all their KPIs for the day, let them go earlier. Give them a day off once a month where they can unwind and let off steam by playing with kids and having time to spend with their family.
If your work is not tied to a specific time zone, consider offering your employees to work any time of the day. When your employees are happy about the work that they do, because it gives them flexibility in working hours, they’ll be happier to put in the time and work extra hard.
The tips mentioned above will help you stay on top of the various managerial responsibilities you have to juggle while working remotely. Starting with letting go of micromanagement, maintaining a steady communication with team members, and facilitating them in resolving tech issues, to giving them the opportunity to work flexible hours, these were some of the tips that will help managers work with teams in remote locations with ease and efficiency.