8 Tips for Managing Your Team Remotely
Posted on May 13, 2020
If you’re a Team Leader, Project Manager, or Project Implementation Lead, you know how important it is to take care of your people. But this task becomes doubly challenging when managing your team remotely. You’ve probably had thoughts like, “Are they really doing their job? Why aren’t they answering any of my e-mails? Is that guy not wearing any pants during this video call?!”
Relax, take a deep breath, and get that image out of your head. It’s definitely possible to manage your team remotely—it just requires a different approach. Here are some things you can do to avoid miscommunication and ensure that everyone gets the job done.
8 Tips for Managing Your Team Remotely
1. Set clear expectations and objectives.
Before an employee starts working remotely, you need to tell them what you expect from them. Set important details like their expected working hours, availability, guidelines for e-mail correspondence, and meeting schedules. Before starting a new project, be clear about the objectives and your expected deadlines. Make sure your objectives are aligned so that you and your employees are always on the same page.
2. Create a communication strategy.
When your team works remotely, communication is key. Since you can’t hop over to their desks to clarify something immediately, you need to set a communication flow and schedule for your team that will be both effective and efficient for everyone. Send e-mails for messages that need to be more formal or that require a more thorough explanation, and use instant messaging apps for quicker correspondence.
When delivering a sensitive or a personal message, the best way would be to call them or set up a video conference. Text messages, e-mails, and chats are very much subject to personal interpretation, so it’s better to talk via call or video so they can hear your tone of voice and/or see your expressions.
3. Maximize the tools you have.
In a remote work setting, it’s important to have the right tools for efficient and seamless communication and collaboration. Here are some of our recommended tools for your work-from-home setup:
- Video conferencing tools like Zoom work well for group meetings, especially when you need to communicate detailed information. Screen sharing and meeting between two or more people are also very convenient because these tools can be used on phones and laptops.
- Instant messaging apps like Viber allow the team to communicate informally and quickly.
- Calendar apps, such as Google Calendar, allow the team to view all the schedules and deadlines at a glance.
- Cloud-based productivity tools, such as Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, allow you to collaborate on a document with your team in real-time. You can track the changes made and leave comments for your team members.
4. Make use of task trackers.
When your team is working on a big project remotely, it can be confusing and overwhelming to keep track of everyone’s tasks. If you’re still using an old-school manual spreadsheet, it’s time to level up! Use task management software to automate task tracking, keep things organized, and monitor milestones. There are a number of options available in the market—just choose one that works best for your team.
5. Stay focused on goals, not activities when managing your team remotely.
In a traditional work culture, some managers tend to focus on what their team is doing rather than looking forward to the result. But in a work-from-home setting, you won’t be able to constantly look over your staff’s shoulders. As a manager, don’t worry about every little thing your staff is doing, as long as it does not compromise their work output and goals. Concentrate on what is being accomplished and trust that your team is doing their job—and doing it correctly. Studies have shown that giving employees more freedom and flexibility helps them be more productive. Trusting in their capabilities also empowers them to be honest, truthful, and loyal to you and the team.
6. Be efficient during meetings.
Decide how often you need to meet as a team. A weekly update meeting works for some teams, but others may need daily updating and realigning of goals. If the team knows you’re on top of things, they will have more initiative to finish the workload and do what is expected.
Just be careful not to overload your team with too many meetings. According to a survey done by Harvard Business Review, 65% of the respondents said that meetings keep them from completing their own work. So before you schedule a con call with your team, ask yourself, would it be more efficient to just discuss this over e-mail? If not, then create a clear agenda for each meeting and prioritize topics that need face-to-face explanation and clarification. Make sure the meeting starts and ends on time too.
7. Create a connection with each person on the team.
One of the perks of working in an office is being friends with your teammates, hanging out at the pantry, and maybe even going out for drinks occasionally. Ideally, your team members are also able to voice their concerns to you as their manager. Even if you all work from home, try to establish a good relationship, and create a personal connection with each person in the team. Get to know their working style and their personal concerns, and let them know that you are always available if they have any questions. Maybe you can even do a virtual team-building activity to create camaraderie among team members.
8. Give constructive feedback.
Don’t you love it when your boss commends you on a job well done? Or when he or she gives you guidance, rather than getting angry when you do something wrong? Complimenting a team member or giving feedback on what needs to be improved can motivate your team. One study shows that being able to give corrective feedback can boost your team’s performance. This is because people grow with constructive criticism—just make sure to give it in a way that helps them understand what they did wrong, rather than feel attacked. Be sensitive to each individual on your team. Listen to their concerns or their side of the story and encourage them to speak up about their thoughts as well.
At the end of the day, managing a team remotely requires extra patience and care for your team’s well-being. It may be challenging at first, but it can also be very rewarding. Empathizing with your team and appreciating their efforts will show them that you care about them and that you support them. In turn, they’ll respect you as their manager and be motivated to do a good job—and they won’t think about you when they see these funny boss memes!
This article is the second in a two-part series on working from home. Did you miss the first installment (10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity While Working From Home)? Read it here. All the tips were gathered from employees of Framedia, an e-learning company that has successfully embraced the remote work lifestyle since 2010.
Image Source: Managing Your Team Remotely by freepik