Are you transferring your team overseas, or are you adapting to local mandatory remote work requirements? Now more than ever, it is essential that you can adjust to every aspect of managing a team remotely. In the tech world, maintaining a business and doing the work by itself might not be the hardest of tasks. However, keeping a highly motivated team and relationships alive, while conserving company culture, might just be the ultimate challenge for those who are used to face-to-face interactions. How do you keep those interactions spontaneous and flowing if you need to schedule a virtual room every time? How do you stay on top of your team’s responsibilities without seeming untrusting?
Autonomy and trust over micromanagement and doubt
You were used to walking into the room and asking for the status of task x, y, and z and getting the answers right away but now it seems strange to keep doing the same over messages or constant (conference) calls. Being your team, you should know they are trustworthy and working towards the same goals as you are. After all, you did hire each individual. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you should relinquish control completely and not follow up on their assignments. The key is understanding how each person performs best and let them choose how to organize their work. Let them know you trust them and they will return that trust.
Metrics over schedules
If your job does not require individuals to be online at 9 am sharp and if your team performs better in the afternoon, why keep them on such a tight schedule? Communication will flow much better when everyone is on the same schedule but asking why people were 5 minutes late might not make sense anymore. Loosen up on the agenda and go hard on the results. Setting up clear goals and deadlines for their completion will make your team more accountable. Have these goals written down on JIRA so everyone is on the same page, and define when each step of the process should be achieved. “When” is more important than “how”.
It’s not another meeting, it’s a coffee break
Having daily meetings to go through each customer, each task, or each team member’s issues, can be a drag and takes a toll on everyone’s time. Instead, suggest a daily coffee break where you just talk about whatever you want and take time to strengthen personal relationships. 15 minutes is all it takes. Ask about a good thing that happened lately or comment on the tv shows you’re currently watching. Do not underestimate the value of meaningful relationships. They will make communication and work much smoother in the long run.
When in doubt, give them a call
So, you have a weekly catch-up meeting to define tasks and go over issues, that’s great. But between that time you’re not sure what’s going on or some team members tend to go quiet, not interacting as much. Call them! If you are unsure of what’s going on, don’t be afraid to call once or twice a day to ask how they’re doing or if there’s anything you can do to help. Remember that written communication can be tricky and might not convey the tone you intended so, make time for individual calls for clarifications and show that you are there to support your employees, not only as a team but also as individuals.
While these steps might seem small by themselves, together they comprise an effective plan to promote a more positive and healthier environment for your employees while working remotely. And you know what that means: a more motivated and productive team! Though you may have put some or all of these measures in motion, we encourage you to self-assess your role as a remote team manager every day. The traditional workspace is quickly changing, but the connection with your team should remain.