It can be difficult to manage a team that’s spread out across different locations. Staff may enjoy flexibility, but remote team members are also vulnerable to feelings of isolation. Meanwhile, management is forced to cede some of its control in exchange for a more hands-off approach.
If you’re new to these and other complexities of managing a remote team, here are five errors to steer clear of:
- Failure to Be Transparent
You need to offer open and honest communication if that’s what you want from your team. Tossing out work simply isn’t enough, especially if you’re trying to achieve a high level of productivity.
Video calls and video conferencing are great for non-verbal cues. However, if you hope to thrive, you must go beyond virtual connection. Wherever possible, meeting in person can help foster strong relationships with your people.
Say your team is spread across the UK and Australia, for example. You can get a great serviced office in Melbourne and London a few times a year, allowing for a semi-virtual, semi-in-person meeting that bridges the physical and digital worlds.
- Not Practising What You Preach
Just as a child learns from a parent’s actions and words, so do employees learn from their managers. You can’t expect staff to be upfront and open if you don’t do the same thing.
You’re building company culture here. How you speak and act will be noted and copied by your subordinates, so take care to lead by a good example.
- Getting in Touch at Inconvenient Hours
You’ve got to be mindful of the fact that not everyone is available at the same time. What this means is that all contact has to be well-timed. It’s possible to tiptoe around timezones – you just have to make sure you book your meetings when it’s daytime in all the different regions.
It could be 8 am in one area and 5 pm in another, and that would work just fine. If somebody can’t make it, give an update, use a minute-taker app that will record and transcribe, or just record and share the meeting in your preferred communication app.
- Appreciating Locals Only
Say you’ve got personnel you can network with face-to-face and others working remotely. One group shouldn’t take priority over the other. Don’t give one side more perks than the other. Instead, make an effort to balance things out.
If remote workers can’t join your team-building exercise, get them to have their own. Maybe they can’t go dining with you to celebrate a deal you secured, but you could sponsor them to go out on their own or with family or friends. It’s all about making everyone feel appreciated.
- Being Too Uptight
Not being sure whether your workers are on track, even if they say they are, can be unnerving. While bossware has become a disturbing new trend, it’s just not feasible (or friendly) to keep constant watch over your team and whether they’re logged in and active.
The most important thing is to set targets and have a productivity checking process in place. As long as remote employees know the consequences of not keeping up, you’re good. Being able to adapt to their way of working is also key.
Remember, it’s not about getting your way. It’s about getting things done.
Members of your workforce need to be able to trust you. Be available to them, and don’t be someone they fear but someone they respect. Connect with your team on a personal level, find creative but professional ways to offer support, and you’re sure to produce brilliant outcomes.