GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson
Consider five best practices for managing remotely.
Remote work was once associated with poor accountability, incohesive teamwork, and confusing communication practices. Fortunately, that’s now easily preventable. With the right management practices and tools, remote management should feel empowering, productive, and streamlined. Consider these five best practices for managing remotely.
Hybrid and remote work is something to embrace.
Managing remote teams takes a focused and thoughtful approach. The role of a manager is to guide, support, and connect the team. Approach the responsibility with a proper strategy, and hybrid or remote work becomes an asset to both the employees and the employer.
As the benefits of remote work become apparent, it’s safe to say that remote and hybrid work are here to stay. There’s plenty of existing research for remote work. According to a Forbes study, “Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.” Below are a few more positive consequences of remote work.
- Employees have location independence, and employers have the option to recruit top talent worldwide.
- Employees can be more productive, in turn reflecting on the company’s performance.
- Employee engagement tends to rise.
- Both sides tend to save money, enhancing profitability for the company.
With an effective manager, confidence and trust become apparent on a team. Build best practices into place, and you can expect game-changing results.
How can you effectively manage a remote team?
It takes practice and the right mindset to master effective management. We recommend practicing the steps below, and considering our Workshop Design course to build lasting results.
1. Embrace technology and tools.
Technology is on your side. There are countless tools made specifically to improve, and manage remote work, especially remote management. Make the most of the tools you have, and use them consistently. Focus on empowering your team to value available resources. Here are a few tools that we recommend.
Make sure each person understands how to use the tools in place. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. If your team depends on a project management tool to share and develop work, everyone should know or be taught how to use it effectively. It’s your job to oversee processes and enable people to work efficiently.
Define clear communication practices. Everyone benefits from guidelines for communication, and technology is on your side. Clarify when and where to share certain messages. For example, urgent messages should be shared via Slack or another instant messaging tool, while they should use email for higher level communication about projects.
Technology should enable you, as a manager, to manage less. Redundant tasks are easily minimized with the right tools. If your team is confident in how to use them, you can focus on more important tasks.
2. Implement boundaries and state expectations.
Boundaries are especially important with hybrid and remote work. They’re a sign of respect for employees. Working from wherever should not equate to always available. People work from different time zones and schedules, so align on a work schedule and respect those hours. Constant notifications outside of work hours often have a negative impact on engagement and morale.
Stating expectations clearly defines how to respect the team. Outline expectations for work hours, available hours, assignments and deadlines, email turnaround time, meeting timeliness, and communication practices. If you’re following a hybrid model, be sure to clarify when and how often in-office work is expected.
3. Check in on individuals.
Remember the value of face-to-face interaction and use tools to continue it. This is especially important to newly remote teams. As an employee, it’s affirming to know that leadership values your work and recognizes your productivity.
As an employee, it’s affirming to know that leadership values your work and recognizes your productivity.
One-on-one check-ins offer space for connection. Having a regular check-in on the calendar is motivating, especially when the work is acknowledged and rewarded. While it will take practice to know the right cadence, it’s important to start with something on the calendar. Try weekly check-ins to start. If you have the option, schedule those for while you’re both in the office.
Clean up before hanging up. Outline current projects and align priorities before the next check-in. Looking to improve the structure of your current meetings? Look to our expert facilitators for guidance through a meeting systems workshop. We’re here to help.
4. Check in on them, not just their work.
Understand that people are working from a variety of environments. Some may work in solitude, others in a coffee shop or at home with young children. It’s important to provide opportunities to connect.
Countless benefits can arise from open conversation and listening. Working remotely means working with differing experiences and viewpoints. It also means that acknowledging shared stress of work goes a long way. Your employees sense the emotions you convey. Focus on conveying calm and empathy when it’s appropriate. When people sense space for sharing their experiences, camaraderie is built and they feel invested in.
Provide opportunities for connection whenever possible, including in-person. Consider monthly happy hours outside of work.
5. Communicate priorities and values to manage your team.
Proactive communication lends itself useful. Communicate values from the start. Aligning on values gives individuals a tool for navigating decisions and managers’ confidence in employees. Values serve as the first resort for help.
Keeping the team aligned on priorities is also essential. Focus on goals and outcomes rather than how people are accomplishing their work. It minimizes micromanaging and enables employees to settle into their own style of work. Different people work differently.
Make sure that you’re finding ways to lead the team, not just manage it. Constantly tracking progress is a waste of time on both ends. Communicate tasks that need to be accomplished, but don’t use that as an excuse to check in on their work more often than is necessary. Trust communication practices you put into place, and use your time for accomplishing work.
Explaining the “why” behind priorities and deadlines is also important. Employees have a greater sense of purpose when they understand the reason for a project.
How should I go about implementing these five strategies?
Practice. Practice in our workshops and with our library of tools. Practice with other leaders and with your team. We want you to see a lasting impact from your work, and we’ve seen it many times over with our toolkit.
Voltage Control offers workshops and courses for a forward-looking workplace. Managing teams remotely effectively takes practice with an advanced toolkit. Just like you should exit a meeting with a plan for action, you’ll complete our Workshop Design course with experience and valuable feedback for how you specifically can effectively manage a remote team. Please reach out to us at email@example.com to discuss what we offer.
Image credit: Pixabay
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