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Our top tips to successful Remote Management
Being a manager can be challenging. Being a remote manager with a team dispersed across locations and/or functions brings additional pressures.
Managing people who you do not see on a regular basis – and who do not see each other frequently – creates very real obstacles. People are naturally drawn to things that happen around them at the local level, so focus may drift away from their actual team to their local group of co-workers.
Just as team members can feel alone and forgotten in their corner of the business, managers can also feel very isolated too. This can result in people working alone, not sharing knowledge, skills or ideas, as well as feeling unsupported. When people feel isolated, they begin to work on their own agendas, and can start to lose sight of the team objective.
Not just limited to national or ethnic factors, the ‘way we do things here’ can cause enormous problems for dispersed teams and their managers.
This is particularly an issue with project teams, where team members may only be together for a short period of time. Teams who do not have the opportunity to create a consistent way of working will often revert to their comfort zones that reflect previous teams, individual preferences and local etiquette.
Business success relies on everyone doing what they are expected to do, to the right standard, at the right time and in the right way. It is difficult to trust people to perform their part of the task when we don’t know them that well. Trust is something that builds over time and comes easily with people that we have built a personal relationship with.
‘Remote management is not radically different from managing people on-site. The biggest difference is a shift in management style from “eyeball management” (assuming workers are being productive because you physically see them at their desks working) to managing by results’ – Phil Montero
Here are our top tips to becoming a successful Remote Manager:
- Have a clear communication plan…and communicate regularly.
- Encourage your team to solve their own problems, support and challenge them in order that they can find their own solutions – or get them to do this together!
- Set up a blog and use it to keep the team informed. Encourage their comments to make it a relevant living document.
- Make the best use of internet networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook that you can. Be clear about why you are using them and keep it relevant.
- Always give sensitive, complicated or constructive news in person.
- Be a leader of leaders. Respect the expertise that your team members have and recognise and reward individual and team achievements.
- Develop a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging team members to measure their own success, and constantly evaluate their own performance.
- Encourage your team to socialise and contact one another without your intervention.
- Take time to get to know your team members equally and use strengths within the team.
- Remember that above all else, you are a people manager. Manage the people well and the results will follow!
- Give and receive feedback regularly and, in return, listen to feedback and suggestions from your team.
- Respond to messages from your team members as soon as is practically possible. Silence is often misinterpreted as disinterest.
- Be open and honest with people as much as possible. Never hold back information to retain power.
- Do what you say you will do. Keeping your promises and behaving consistently is one of the easiest ways to build trust within a team.
- Be clear about the decisions that can be made without your authority and those that need to be run past you. Be consistent in your application of this rule.
- Focus on outcome, not process.
‘Remember that we choose to follow leaders based on the way the leaders make us feel. Therefore, we’re more likely to follow people who make us feel strong, powerful, valued, etc. Remote associates are no different. You just have to concentrate on ensuring that your remote people feel included, supported and part of a team’ – Steve Coats
Struggling to lead a remote team? Need further tips on Leadership? Visit our full 90-minute bite-size session listings for help.