If you’ve found yourself managing remote teams for the first time, you may be wondering: What’s it like to supervise at team you don’t see in person each day? What remote management skills do I need to keep my team connected? What are the unique challenges of managing a remote team?
Here are seven great ideas for managing remote teams and effectively motivating remote employees no matter where your “offices” are located.
Giving employees credit and recognition for outstanding work is vital. The numbers tell this story: Companies with a recognition-rich culture have 31% lower turnover rates. This is just as important for remote teams as for on-site teams, if not more so.
During one-on-one meetings, consider having an honest talk with your team about their current job responsibilities and workload. If you get a sense that they are overcapacity, ask, “Is there something you wish you could offload to another team member (or perhaps a virtual assistant)? Can I help you reprioritize your projects?”
If there is, try to find a way to take that task or project off the employee’s plate. This is a great way of motivating remote employees and showing that you care about their work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an important point of reference for the whole team. By tracking them visibly, you can unite your team around your shared goals and help everyone keep the right priorities in mind. Depending on what you need to track, there are 20+ tools that you can use to create shareable virtual dashboards.
Once you’ve set up your dashboard, keep your team engaged by drawing their attention to it. Use it as a motivational focal point. When the numbers are lagging, huddle together (virtually) to solve the problem. When the numbers improve, congratulate the team and celebrate the accomplishment.
People who truly know how to manage a remote team tend to concentrate on outcomes, not hours worked. Tracking successes is more important than tracking hours because that’s what moves the company forward.
So, as you design your KPI dashboard and remote incentive system, think about the outcomes that matter the most. Stay relentlessly focused on those key outcomes, and your team will pull the rope in the same direction.
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Workplace friendships are among the strongest predictors of productivity. These can suffer without those casual watercooler run-ins. Encourage employees to keep those human connections intact. If you use Slack or another communication app, you can help facilitate workplace friendships through fun or casual chat groups and channels – for example, start one for funny pet pictures.
If your company doesn’t use video conferencing routinely, now is the time to start. 87% of remote team members feel more connected to their teams when they use video conferencing. Video meetings offset feelings of loneliness and go a long way toward a better, more “real” remote work experience. As the manager, it’s your job to lead by example. Host video meetings with your team members and have them do the same when they meet without you.
If there is “one rule of thumb to end them all” for remote teams, it is “over-communicate.” Yes, email inboxes can get cluttered. Yes, Slack channels can get unwieldy. But those risks don’t outweigh the costs of chronic under-communication. Just ask Buffer, a 100% remote company that surveyed more than 3,000 remote workers for its 2020 State of Remote Work report. The struggle that tops the list for remote workers is the challenge of communicating and collaborating with the team.
So, encourage your employees to ask clarifying questions, even when they think they might already know the answers. Suggest they meet on video to talk through projects and get on the same page. This, along with the other remote management skills on this list, will go a long way toward keeping your team together and productive despite the distance.