The Covid 19 pandemic has suddenly thrust a lot of managers into the role of the remote manager. In my career managing teams across the globe, I have experienced the challenges of not being in the same physical location as my direct reports, and sometimes not even knowing where they were! Add on to that cultural differences, time zones, age gaps, and access to technology…managing remotely could be a disaster. To be more effective I had to develop some strategies, which I boiled down to the following five tips for managing teams remotely – and today I would never go back. Feel free to share them with your managers, who may be new to managing remotely in today’s uncertain environment.
- Make sure you have a shared goal
When managing remotely, it is even more important that you and your team have a shared goal that is bigger than either of you. This will allow you to frame any difference of opinion in terms of contribution to your shared goal, rather than a personal preference. It also provides stability in uncertain times – structures have shifted but the goal hasn’t.
Performance measures have always been important, but when managing someone at the next cubicle it is easy to shift things on the fly. When managing remotely, it is even more important that KPIs are clear and you have an agreed process for reviewing progress – because you won’t be looking over their shoulder. Be sure team members understand how their KPIs contribute to your team’s shared goal and that they really own them 100%.
- Get out of the way
Now that your team members are operating remotely, they have to be able to implement independently to be effective; so let them. Your role is mostly to enable them to do their best work in their remote environment, whatever that may. It can be scary to trust your team members, but the alternative is to hobble them with your own insecurities. Give them the tools to do their jobs, and be available to support when needed, but mostly get out of their way.
- Be a coach
Your team members may not see a career path as clearly as they once did, so this becomes a bigger part of your role. Learn about your team members’ aspirations if you don’t know them already, and help them to reach their next steps. When there is no chance of an impromptu elevator conversation about the great work someone did on a project, you will need to be more proactive to help them get ahead.
- Keep it personal
For remote team members working from home, life and work are entwined in new and interesting ways. Some may enjoy the freedom, while others may hate these worlds colliding. You will be more effective and successful if your team members know you have their back. Sharing your own challenges is a great way to get your team to open up to you. And when situations are difficult to resolve, go back to that shared goal to find a solution that puts you both on a path to achieve it.