By: Amanda Therese
There really is no one-size-fits-all way to manage a team. This is especially true now that today’s workplace is nearly unrecognizable from the office cubicles of the past, with many organizations adapting to a more digital model. In fact, more than 3 million Americans — that’s 2.9% of the total US workforce — are already working remotely. This means that if you want to be part of the next generation of successful leaders, you need to be able to tailor your management style according to the modern business world. In line with these requirements, Maryville University states that there is a growing demand for remote working specialists who can help companies implement organizational change. This includes managing remote workers using emerging technology such as e-learning tools. And to do that, you need to master a few key skills to ensure your management approach leads your remote team to success. Here are some of the things you need to remember:
Set clear (and realistic) goals and expectations
A Gallup study published on Business News Daily reveals that half of all US employees have no idea what is expected of them at work. In the same article, the authors of the study point out that a clear set of goals and expectations — or lack thereof — can make or break your team.
Therefore, be sure to explain what you expect from your team members before anything else. Roles and responsibilities need to be discussed clearly and in full. One of the best ways to set expectations is to personalize them according to your employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Show examples of what you expect to get from your team, too. This way, they have a clear vision of what output they need to produce.
Provide enough employee support
If your team is struggling to download necessary files, join meetings, and access online tools, you can’t expect them to perform their roles properly. Invest in reliable tools that can make collaboration possible regardless of location such as Slack or project management tool Asana. Provide laptops that come complete with a time-tracking tool, as well as all the necessary licensed software. Time-tracking tools such as Hubstaff are great as they will help employees manage their time, and can help you spot any patterns in their daily work that aids in continuous improvement.
Apart from providing all the necessary pieces of equipment, learning how to empathize with your team members and provide emotional support is also necessary. Zeit CEO Guillermo Rauch explains that being more empathetic helps you not only gain your team’s trust, but also help them become more empathetic themselves. “In a remote environment, as a leader, you have to be a lot more introspective,” Rauch said. This can encourage your team to work together, eventually leading to higher productivity.
Make an effort to build a strong connection between the members of your team
Richard Walton’s previous article here on Yonder highlights how difficult it is to build team spirit and gain a sense of community when there is no daily interaction on which to base it all on. This is important because a team that is willing to work and achieve a goal together can make a business thrive. In contrast, a disconnect can lead to issues with motivation, which can eventually cost you either your entire team, or at the very least, some of the key staff.
The best way to address this is to invest the money that you saved from not having to pay for an office into creating opportunities for your employees to meet outside work instead. When your team feels connected, they are more likely to help each other and you are more likely to achieve your overall goals as their leader. A strong team bond will also come in handy when faced with adversity — when your team knows they can rely on each other, they are more likely to stay together through difficult times.
Listen and be open to new ideas
Listening is a skill that takes a lot of practice to master. And if you want to be an effective leader in charge of a remote team, you have to learn how to listen. It’s the only way for you to get to know your employees better, especially since you won’t see them regularly. What they have to say might help you improve how you handle the team and how your boss runs the entire company. Like we said in another Yonder article: make meetings matter. Take the time to listen and allow your employees to talk. Think of activities that would encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas.
In addition, taking the time to listen first, helps you refrain from making emotional and spur of the moment decisions. Listening closely to your team can also reveal insights that you wouldn’t otherwise chance upon. You also need to be flexible enough to welcome suggestions and to admit when you don’t know something. Leadership Thoughts points out that admitting your lack of knowledge about something is actually a great sign of strength as a leader, and is something you can learn to do.
Amanda Therese: Having worked abroad for most of her professional life, Amanda Therese has cut her teeth managing teams in the BPO industry. Over the last 5 years, she has been working for a company with a remote working business model. After enjoying the challenges of remote work, she now writes for publications about her experience in the field in her spare time. She also enjoys tennis, cricket and a good fiction novel.