We’ve been in this remote world for over two years, so you’d think by now we’d have remote management down to a science. This doesn’t appear to be the case.
Leaders of remote teams are reaching out to me weekly seeking guidance on how to best manage employees they can’t see.
When it comes to managing a remote team, here are seven challenges that keep surfacing and how to overcome them.
Number 1: Communication-Miscommunication appears to be on an upward trend as managers try to figure out how to deliver information to employees they no longer see daily. This is especially true when dealing with difficult work conversations. I talk about how to handle difficult conversations at work when managing remotely in my latest book, Can We Talk?
When conducting conversations with employees, consider the place and time zones. When setting a time for what may be an awkward interaction, consider where the other person is located and do your best to select a time when they’ll be able to full focus their attention on the matter at hand.
Also, consider where the employee may be when you’re having the conversation. With so many people working from home now, privacy is at a premium. An employee may be distracted if they’ve got a young child running around their house or a spouse working nearby and may not fully take in your message. Give them a heads up that what you’re about to discuss is best said in privacy so they can move to a quiet place if need be.
Number 2: Holding People Accountable-Gone are the days that you could simply measure performance based on face time. Thank goodness those days are behind us! Measure people based on results, not hours worked.
You’re never going to know exactly how many hours someone has worked, nor should that matter if assignments are getting done. Establish goals and metrics and discuss these with your employees. Be sure that your expectations are clearly communicated and that assigned goals can be measured.
Number 3: Creating a Healthy Culture. Culture is a shared set of beliefs and companies have subcultures, which you as a manager can control. If you’re looking to create an open culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas, then you’ll need to create a virtual “open door” policy, where you respond promptly whenever an employee reaches out to you. If you want to create a culture that’s considered “fun” then schedule get-togethers where employees can meet up or host a virtual game night where employees can compete online for prizes.
Keep in mind that the goal is to create a work environment where people feel connected and where they feel like they belong.
Number 4: Overcoming scheduling Challenges-When you’re managing a global team you quickly learn that 8:00 AM meetings, ET don’t quite work for everyone. Free tools like Doodle make it easy to find a time that is suitable for all.
Plan to alternate meeting times so that certain people aren’t always the ones who are inconvenienced and be sure to let staff members, freelancers, and independent contractors know they’ll be paid when attending the meeting.
Number 5: Establishing Trusting Relationships-Here’s where transparency pays off. You can build trust with your remote team through honest and timely feedback.
Let employees know when they’ve done a great job. Also let them know when their work is not up to par and how they can rectify the situation. Inform team members as soon as possible if there is a change in the direction the company is taking. Don’t let them learn about this on the local six o’clock news.
Number 6: Showing People You Value Them-Make time to regularly meet with all your people. It may seem like you don’t have enough hours in the day to meet with everyone. These don’t have to be long meetings. In most cases, 15 minutes will do. These meetings should be regularly scheduled so that employees feel connected and know where they stand.
Number 7: Improving the Workplace for your People-You can’t possibly know what your employees are thinking unless you ask. Ask team members about the challenges they face and ask for suggestions on how to optimize systems and improve operations. And while you’re at it, ask them to share some suggestions that will help you become a better leader.
© Matuson Consulting, 2022.