(Photo by Iryna Tysiak)
You’ve just been thrust into managing your team remotely or maybe you’ve been promoted into such an environment. Whether in-person or remotely, communications will always prevail in managing others. Teams that know precisely what is expected and then can maintain honest, candid, and effective communications will prosper with better cohesion and less destructive politics and confusion. Here are five areas you will want to consider in your remote management strategy.
- Explicit Expectations. When it comes to managing remote teams, be very clear about expectations. This will include your mission, expectations, tools, questions, rules, protocol, roles, status reports, deadlines, etc. Never keep anyone in the dark especially in a remote environment.
- Personify Solid Communication Skills. Be a stellar listener. Inquire about progress and workload without micromanaging. Prepare for each interation. Confirm conversations with emails so you can confirm that there is no confusion. Remain aware that texts or emails can easily be misinterpreted or taken out of context.
- Always Be Available. Remote employees should be able to count on you to respond quickly to pressing concerns. Be available quickly and at all times of the day. Go above and beyond to maintain an open-door policy for remote employees—make yourself available across multiple time zones. Let your reports know how to communicate an emergency.
- Make Your Relationships A Priority. Working remotely makes it more important than ever to forge personal bonds with each member of your team. Allow for some personal “water cooler” time with each. Sincerely ask about and get to know about their families, personal life, and hobbies. In group settings allow for “needless conversation.” Being all business all the time doesn’t not build camaraderie, especially in a remote environment. Team building and camaraderie are important for any team and remote teams are no exception.
- Utilize Different Technologies. Mix things up. If in-person meetings are not possible, at a minimum use video conferencing technology or make conference calls to ensure colleagues occasionally see one another’s face or hear one another’s voice. Instant Messaging, Text, phone, Skype, Zoom, and Email should all have a place in your repertoire.
Don’t underestimate the influence you have on your team’s ability to engage in dialogue and create a collaborative and healthy culture—especially when distance and technology are suddenly part of the equation.