The world came to a halt last year, as companies had to shift to remote work overnight. Business owners and managers had to adapt to this completely new shift, and many companies have successfully transitioned to a remote work module.
Though we can't deny that working remotely turned out to be successful and even improved productivity in some aspects, it also comes with a set of difficulties and challenges, especially for the management team. While managing a remote team might be harder than an in-office team, it's not impossible, and with a few tips from us on remote team building, you'll be able to avoid making common remote managing mistakes.
Biggest Mistakes Managers Make with Their Remote Teams
Though there are some differences between working remotely and in the office, essentially, the work of a manager remains the same - to oversee that each project is running smoothly and ensure there is proper communication and collaboration between different departments despite the physical distance.
Limited face-to-face conversations and slip-ups in communication can lead you to lose focus. Still, if you learn to identify the areas facing issues, it's easier to rectify them and make progress. Some of the challenges of managing a remote workforce are -
Not Building Trust and Rapport With Team Members
One factor to consider while working with remote employees is that while you don't work in the same place physically, you are all still part of the same team and need to build a solid relationship to work well together. A considerable amount of the manager's job is listening to feedback and making the employees feel heard and valued. Without a connection, your team will not be able to make a connection with you.
Establishing a relationship beyond just everyday tasks is an essential part of any good manager and helps to strengthen the bond with your subordinates. As a result, they will be more open to you regarding their problems and will find it easier to approach you with new ideas or when they need assistance. While both parties are responsible for a good relationship, your job as the manager is to put in the effort and initiate contact.
How To Correct This?
- Make an active effort on your part to have more frequent one-on-one interactions with your team members.
- Schedule weekly/monthly meetings to get their feedback and ask for their suggestions to make them feel more involved.
- Extend your conversation to topics beyond work - inquire about their family, pets, hobbies, etc.
All these will make your employees feel more valued and connected to you as a manager and, in turn, improve their productivity and quality of work.
Not Including Them In Important Decisions and Meetings
While making critical decisions in an office space, all team members are involved in the meetings in one way or another. However, in the case of a remote work setup, we don't always keep everyone in the loop. A decision is made between one or two senior management employees. Then, the rest of the team is notified about these decisions later in a group channel or email.
This is not done intentionally, but while dealing with some issues which needs to be addressed immediately, we often forget to keep everyone in the team involved. It leads to the team members feeling left out, undervalued, and frustrated at not providing their input.
Another issue in remote companies is that not everyone may be available simultaneously. As a result, some people miss out on meetings, which later makes them clueless about the project developments and less motivated to produce good results.
How To Correct This?
- As much as possible, try to schedule important meetings in advance and give everyone in your team enough notice to keep themselves free to attend these video calls.
- If there's an urgent crisis and you do not have the time to include the whole team in the decision-making, try to schedule a call with them later in the day/week to keep them updated and ask for further ideas and suggestions.
- During meetings and zoom calls, especially in bigger companies, inquire whether everyone who needs to be present at the meeting is present on the call.
It is a small step, but it'll really show your employees that you are making an effort to include them in every critical decision.
Not Appreciating Them In Company Victories
In fully or partially remote setups, employees can sometimes be overlooked when appreciating small and big victories. When a project is successful, not everyone involved receives accolades or recognition, leading to employees feeling like their efforts have gone to waste, and their hard work has gone unnoticed.
Another issue with remote work is you can't celebrate wins the same way you might in an office environment - going out for drinks, having an office party, or dinner. So managers might not know how to reward their employees for a job well done even when they want to.
How To Correct This?
- Make sure to acknowledge each and every team member involved in a project if it performs well.
- This can be done by doing a shout-out in your group chats, sending out an email, or even a heartfelt one-on-one thank you for showing your appreciation and gratitude.
- If you have a large company and have regular company-wide meetings, make sure to acknowledge the teams that had a successful project at work to make them feel more valued.
- Just because your employees work remotely does not mean they don't have to be rewarded for their victories. Sending out gifts makes them feel seen and appreciated. It doesn't have to be anything big; most of the time, it's the thought that counts.
Positive feedback reinforces the belief that employees are valued in a company and will make your employees work better.
No Team Building Activities
More often than not, virtual teams do not feel connected to their colleagues because they do not spend any time together apart from work conversations. Yet, as we already know, the power of building a strong connection between employees and managers is crucial for a business to function efficiently.
The same principle applies to employees communicating with each other. For different departments to collaborate smoothly, they need to have a good rapport with each other. Your job as a manager is to facilitate opportunities for employees to build conversations outside of work topics.
How To Correct This?
- If your employees are all based in the same city/country, try to schedule team off-sites to create an environment for your team members to bond and get to know each other personally.
- Using Wishup as a personal example - being an entirely remote company from its inception, Wishup has managed to keep its employees connected despite being scattered across the country. Regular zoom calls, movie nights, and quiz nights are conducted weekly to build team relations.
Ignoring Growth Opportunities
While your company must flourish with the help of your employees, it's also equally vital for your company to be a place where your employees can grow professionally. It may seem especially hard in a remote environment where you don't get to see their progress 'physically.'
Avoiding conversations about their progress, growth, and what employees need from the company can be really beneficial for them to feel valued, grow their skills, and advance professionally.
How To Correct This?
- Schedule monthly meetings with each team member where you could discuss their progress, achievements, and contributions to the company's growth. That way, when the question of promotions or appraisals comes up, you'll have vital information to help you make your decision.
- Invest in upskilling your team internally instead of hiring new employees. Conduct regular workshops and courses to help your employees learn new skills. This benefits both the company and the employees and makes them more loyal to the company.
“A key to achieving success is to assemble a strong and stable management team” - Vivek Wadhwa.
There's no denying that remote team management is hard work, more so in a remote environment. However, it's an equally rewarding feeling when your good management is the reason for your company's success. The key to good management is to identify mistakes before they even occur, and we hope that you found this article helpful and it helps you keep your team motivated despite the physical distance.