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How To Effectively Manage A Remote-Work Team

After 1 year and a half of remote work, most managers already found the best tricks/tactics/tips on how to effectively manage a remote-work team.

But for those who are new at managing a team or haven’t had much success in their efforts, we will list 5 specific and research-based steps that managers can take easily to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.

To start, managers need to understand factors that can make remote work especially demanding. Otherwise, high-performing employees may experience declines in job performance and engagement – especially in the absence of preparation and training.

Besides that, it has become less and less acceptable to this new generation in the workforce to answer to and follow an authoritarian leader. Today’s leader is much more likely to be viewed as a “facilitator” than a traditional team leader.

Challenges inherent to remote work include:

  • Lack of face-to-face supervision
  • Lack of access to information
  • Social isolation
  • Distractions at home

So What Tactics Should Be Deployed To Effectively Manage A Remote-Work Team?

1 – Establish and Maintain Trust

In order for any team to be effective, the members need to have trust in one another to:

  • Deliver on promises
  • Put the needs of the team first
  • Understand how their individual actions affect the team as a whole
  • Be able to count on one another to help each other out
  • Be tolerant of mistakes.

The last point is really important because it is bound to happen, especially if people are new to the team. Encourage open communication. Being tolerant of mistakes is a good start, however, it takes more than that. Actively seek out input from your team members. Have weekly brainstorming sessions that are completely non-judgmental. Utilize team-building exercises. Be transparent. Nothing kills trust like keeping secrets.

2 – Use Team Management Apps and Tools

This kind of tool helps bring everyone into the project. They are also a good way for team members to coordinate their work with one another. Each member of the team is assigned their task, the progress of which can be followed and monitored. This allows for the team to know exactly where the project stands at any given moment. When used properly, team management tools can contribute to intergroup communication as well as improve efficiencies. On an individual basis, your staff can also use the Pomodoro Technique to improve their productivity.

3 – Know Your Role as a Leader

A good team management strategy requires that you know your role as a leader. The role of a leader is, by nature dynamic, it changes both situationally and over time. In simple terms, know when to lead and when to step back. Micromanaging may stifle creativity and strip ownership from the team member. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t intervene when problems arise.

So before that problem becomes too great, a good plan of action is to:

  1. Inquire – Note, that we didn’t say intervene.
  2. Evaluate – Is this a problem that will get worse without intervention?
  3. Decide on an action – Will shifting a portion of the workload to another team member help? Maybe “no action” is still the prefered “action”.
  4. Monitor – What effect did your decision have on the issue and adjust accordingly.

As a leader, you also must set an example. Leaders need to show the integrity that they want the team to have. Start by admitting your mistakes when you’re wrong. When interacting with team members, do so with professionalism, dignity, and respect.

4 – Focus on outcomes, not “activity

This is widely known as a best practice for increasing engagement and empowering employees. Clearly defining the goals and desired results, then allowing employees (that have the training and resources to execute – that part is important) to develop a plan of execution enhances creativity and ownership. In a remote environment, it is even more difficult to micro-manage people anyway. Oh wait, that’s a good thing, right?!

5 – Provide and Take Feedback

Feedback can be hard, both for the giver and the receiver. But hard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Feedback is an essential tool for everyone’s professional growth. It allows us to both focus on the areas we need to improve and helps us define our strengths.

Giving and receiving feedback is difficult, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.

  • Give a “heads up” – Gives your team a chance to collect their thoughts.
  • Ask questions first – This lets them have a chance to give you their perspective.
  • Talk about the work, not the person – Explaining that there’s a communication issue, and put a program on how to solve it.
  • Ask them to give you some feedback – A good leader has to have some thick skin, so prepare yourself and above all, embrace the criticism. It will allow you to grow.

This is our 5 point list on how to Effectively Manage a Remote-Work Team. It’s short but concise and we hope it will help you better your management style. What are your thoughts on it?