10 Tips for Managing Teams Remotely
10 Tips for Managing Teams Remotely
One of the most FAQs during our Executive Coaching and Mentoring and Resilience Coaching sessions over the past three years, has been how to manage and motivate a remote team. For many leaders and managers, lockdowns due to Covid meant they had to manage their teams virtually, often for the first time. We’ve helped leaders of global Sales teams do this successfully for many years and supported Sales professionals who work from home.
With the rise in 'flu and coronavirus cases, the general reluctance of workers wanting to return to the office, and Hybrid Working being the norm, managing remotely is now one of the key skills required for successful organizations. Here are some tips and techniques to effectively manage your remote teams:
This may sound obvious, but you may have new team members who were onboarded remotely and have always worked from home. If you know your individual team member’s personality type, their key strengths and what motivates them, you will have a better understanding of how to lead and manage them through ongoing changes and uncertainty. If you don’t, it’s never too late to ask them to complete online personality assessments.
2. Know Your Team Types:
Similarly, if you know what unassigned role your team members usually take in the team, from Belbin’s 'Shaper' to 'Implementer', then you can assign new tasks according to their team profile. The ‘Plant’ will often come up with the creative ideas, whereas the 'Monitor Evaluator' may provide useful constructive feedback. It may be the more extrovert 'Co-ordinator' who will volunteer to organize the teams’ virtual social events.
3. Flex Your Style:
Now more than ever, it is important to adapt your management style according to your team members personality type. One size definitely does not fit all in the new normal. With the sudden onset of lockdown in March 2020 leaders and managers were forced into meeting their team members on a variety of video calls, often whilst their employees’ children/pets/partners/housemates/parents appeared in the background. Even the most private of individuals, who were reluctant to divulge their personal circumstances, had to expose the colour of their curtains/blinds to their manager and colleagues. If a more introverted team member doesn’t want to take part in the team weekly virtual quiz, it’s best not to force them. Also, be aware that not everyone will be able to step up or indeed want to.
4. Hold regular 1:1s via Video:
I have been providing Coaching to global clients for many years via video calls and usually insist on it, rather than telephone Coaching, as it’s important to ‘see the whites of their eyes.’ On a telephone call, someone can sound fine but, when you have eye contact with them, you are able to gauge how they are really feeling by their appearance and body language.
5. Actively Listen and Ask More Open Questions:
Even in Sales teams, not everyone will want to open up about key issues online, so ensure that you have regular more informal catch-ups with those team members. However, be very aware of 'meeting overload' and don’t pry in to their personal issues, but by asking more open questions and actively listening you will be able to gauge where any additional help is required.
6. Show Empathy:
The past three years have been challenging for many employees, who may have been very ill themselves and/or know someone who has been hospitalized, or even, sadly passed away. As Covid is hitting the headlines again, be prepared for heightened emotions and allow for flexibility, being mindful that some employees may have underlying health issues or have housemates who are vulnerable, so be empathic to differing needs and their fears.
7. Be very clear on Roles, Responsibilities and Accountability:
Again, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that your team members are clear on what the revised company vision and strategy are and how their work tasks and objectives align with these. Employees want to feel that they are contributing to a key project and are making a difference during difficult times. Being aware of their challenging circumstances, it is key to balance the focus on their goals and their deliverables.
Now more than ever, especially when working from home, team members want to feel valued and therefore give praise where due and encourage two-way feedback to ensure that team members have what they need. Ask them for their ideas to increase engagement.
9. Stay alert to any Cases of Stress and Burnout:
Unsurprisingly cases of stress and burnout have increased over the past three years, due to individuals working longer hours, suffering from screen fatigue, uncertainty fatigue, not taking enough breaks, and sometimes cancelling their annual leave. There may be personality and generational differences with more introverted, technical, and analytical individuals coping better with home working, however, circumstances do change and resilience levels can dip, so ensure that you are alert to any issues and signpost team members to appropriate support.
In any crisis people tend to want to be led. As we head into more challenging times with a looming recession, cost of living crisis, healthcare crisis, widespread industrial action, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, leaders and managers need to be truthful about the future of their organization. That way they can continue to build trust and collaboration, especially when teams are physically divided and disparate. Communicating honestly and regularly about how your organization is faring will aid retention and maintain engagement.
'Working with you over the past 2 years has made me a much more rounded leader, but also improved our overall team performance in difficult times. Thank you so much for your patience and kindness, walking me through each step and providing such practical tools and tips. I'm happy to say that as a result of my upskilling I've been promoted to manage a much bigger remote team!' Senior Manager
You can read my eBook on Hybrid Leadership here and find my Expert Audio Talk on this topic here: https://bookboon.com/en/how-to-lead-and-manage-your-team-remotely-ebook
Stay positive, stay safe.
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