10 Tips for Managing Teams Remotely

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 few months, has been how to manage and motivate a remote team.  For many leaders and managers, lockdowns have 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, although the current pandemic has brought additional challenges, such as coping with the fear of the virus and parents having to deal with home schooling whilst trying to work from home.

With the emergence of new variants of coronavirus, a reluctance of workers wanting to return to the office, and hybrid working looking set to become the future of work, managing remotely is going to be one of the key skills required for successful organizations.  Here are some tips and techniques to effectively manage your remote teams:

1. Know your Team Members:

This may sound obvious, but you may have new team members onboard or have created matrix management teams to deal with the crisis.  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 the current 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 current crisis.  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.  When organizations were in emergency mode regular 1:1s may have fallen by the wayside.  As companies move towards recovery mode, it is more important than ever to check on each team member individually and not just on the phone. 

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:

As everyone will adapt again to phased returns to the office and/or hybrid working, don't forget that most of us have either been ill ourselves and know someone who has been hospitalized, or even, sadly passed away.  Under normal circumstances sick leave and compassionate leave should be given, but these are not normal times, so be prepared for heightened emotions and allow for flexibility.  Be mindful that some employees may have underlying health issues or have housemates who are vulnerable, so be empathic to differing needs and their fears.  The key is to ask each team member what they want and adapt acordingly.

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. 

8. Give more Feedback:

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:

Some reports are suggesting that over 50% of the workforce are heading for burnout due to working longer hours, suffering from screen fatigue, lockdown fatigue, uncertainty fatigue, not taking enough breaks, and having cancelled their annual leave.  There may be personality and generational differences with more introverted, technical, and analytical individuals coping better with lockdowns and 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.

10. Demonstrate Integrity:

In a crisis people tend to want to be ledHopefully we will be moving towards recovery mode again soon, so it is key for leaders and managers to be truthful about the future of work and key challenges in order to continue to build trust and collaboration, especially when teams become physically divided and disparate.  Communicating honestly and regularly about how your organization is transitioning to the 'new normal' will aid retention and maintain engagement.

'I had absolutely no idea how to look after my team when we went in to the first lockdown!  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 swift upskilling I've been promoted to manage a much bigger remote team!'  New Senior Manager

You can find my Expert Audio Talk on this topic here:

Stay positive, stay safe.

About Jill Maidment

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