Being able to manage a remote team has become an essential management skill in 2021. The shift in the past year to a more prevalent remote work phenomenon has changed the way business leaders manage teams and their entire organizations. It is no longer enough to know how to lead a business, it is important to understand how to lead a business when working in a completely remote setup.
It can be quite a stressful situation to navigate the remote working culture and to make sure that your employees are not just working, but thriving. Leading an entire business remotely is easier said than done. Without appropriate processes and protocols, it can become a daunting task to keep up with all your teams.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to know to successfully lead your business when working remotely.
Build your remote teams to be hyper-organized for maximum success
When working with remote teams, sometimes larger team sizes can restrict performance and efficiency. Start with creating teams within your teams. This will enable cohesive work to get done. You can segregate the teams based on projects being worked on, the type of work being done, or any other suitable parameter that works for that team (and your business).
Each of these sub-teams has someone who is in charge and is responsible for the work being done by them. This helps in delegating work and gives them some level of independence. They can then execute without being stuck waiting for reverts and approvals.
This eventually ends up clearing up bottlenecks, speeding up workflows, and delivery of tasks. Teams become more organized and can work with lesser dependencies, enabling more productivity.
Convey expected outcomes right from the start
A big factor that affects employee performance is their understanding of what the expectation from them is. When working with remote teams, sometimes there is a communication gap. If left unchecked, these lead to problems that directly impact employee, team, and business performance.
It is always recommended that expectations from the employee be communicated with them extremely clearly. Be it during the daily/weekly catchups, at the beginning of a new task, or during one-on-ones, make what you expect out of them or the task crystal clear.
Once this is done, the employees become more accountable as they are aware of what needs to happen and what the outcomes need to be. Regular reminders of the expectations and outcomes help in staying on track and keeps diversions to a minimum.
Be easily accessible and available when your teams need you
Burnouts, lack of direction, being stuck in a feedback loop are some of the issues that crop up when working with remote teams. But there is an easy way to avoid this – just stay accessible to your teams when they need you.
More often than not, reverts and replies are not instant when you have a remote workforce. When you as a leader are not accessible to the team, they feel lost. It impacts their work and performance too as they are left hanging and waiting to hear from you.
Create a framework that defines the right protocols, channels, and etiquettes of team communication. Once this is established, make sure everyone, including you, sticks to this framework.
Managing a remote team is all about being there when the team needs you. You cannot assign tasks and then not be available. Your remote workforce needs regular guidance from you.
Avoid micromanaging at all costs
It is not very difficult to slip into a culture of micromanagement when managing remote teams, even if that was not your leadership style before. It is but natural to feel anxious about how well your team is working and wanting to keep checking in on them.
But that is the worst thing you can do, outside of blatantly telling them that you don’t trust them. The need for micromanagement is a function of the trust on the teams, and usually has nothing to do with whether you’re working remote or in-office.
You’ve managed to hire the right people for your business, based on a set of criteria. If they are qualified and are good at their job, let them work what works best for them. Unless they have shown that they cannot operate without constant oversight, you have no reason to mistrust them.
Provide your remote teams with the right set of tools that can help them work efficiently. When you show that you trust them, they will reciprocate that trust with their best performance.
Constantly review short term + long term plans to ensure goal alignment
Managing a remote team requires you to consistently talk to your teams about the short-term and long-term goals you want them to achieve. It’s not something you set and forget – it needs to be regularly addressed and revised as per needs.
Regular teamwide meetings or town halls help in reminding everyone about the common goal that they are all working towards. In case there are teams or team members who have gotten misaligned, this would be a good time to bring them back on track.
This also serves as a constant reminder to them and helps them stay focused. Reiteration of goals goes a long way in making sure everyone remembers them and works towards reaching them.
Leading a remote team is not very different from leading a team from an office. It just requires certain subtle changes in how you interact with your teams. When you manage remote teams efficiently, you will see a positive and almost immediate impact on the productivity and output of your business.
The right leadership is at the center of any remote team or remote workforce, and it is what will drive them to success.