Hays’ James Milligan outlines five key steps for successfully managing a newly remote team, from delegation to developing rapport.
The concept of virtual and remote teams is not a new phenomenon, however with a large proportion of the workforce working remotely for the time being, leading remote teams is something many managers may have to deal with for the first time.
While managers will be used to managing different-sized teams within a workplace setting, managing remotely can throw up lots of new challenges. Sticking to some key practices will help to unify your team wherever they happen to be. Here are five key practices managers can use to help during this time.
1. Understand personality
Some of your team may have worked remotely themselves before, however, for those who haven’t, it’s important to understand how their personality will adjust to the change. Some individuals need constant access to their boss to feel secure and satisfied, whereas others may prefer to work individually without constant communication.
Understand that it may take a couple of weeks to develop a balance among your team, adapting to their preferred communication levels and ways of working. It’s also important that you trust the individuals in your team to manage their time effectively and not abuse the freedom of working remotely.
2. Use tools to make communication easier
Communication is key and having the right tools is crucial to ensuring that everyone in your team can stay in touch easily and get the right information they need. There are so many tools available, including Skype, Yammer, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, so it is worth testing to see what works best for the majority of your team.
Most of these tools are either free or inexpensive solutions which help keep the lines of communication open and flowing. Just remember to make sure everyone has access and knows how to use the tools.
Don’t forget the importance of face-to-face, too. Using video calls at least once a day among your team will help aid a sense of teamwork and it doesn’t hurt to see a friendly face.
3. Don’t only talk shop
When communicating with your team remotely, it can be easy to only talk about work but, as important as that is, make the effort to try and discuss something else on team calls – even for just five minutes. It’s still important to get to know your team on a personal level when working remotely to continue to develop rapport.
Scheduling in some more casual catch-ups is useful too, such as a Friday team round-up, a virtual quiz or a virtual game to help boost morale and keep spirits high.
4. Be clear in your delegation
Delegating in a workplace setting is often much easier than delegating remotely. In the workplace, there is the opportunity to ask quick questions and gauge the body language of the person you are delegating to in order to see if they have understood what you are asking them to do.
It can also be tempting to try and manage teams single-handedly, but under these circumstances this is particularly unlikely, so use the opportunity to lean on key members of your team who may be able to help with this.
5. Encourage knowledge sharing
Consider your team’s different strengths and skills and encourage a culture of knowledge sharing. Just because you aren’t all in the same room doesn’t mean you cannot get one of your employees to create a webinar, podcast or PDF on their specialist subject to keep workplace learning going.
This will help to unify your team and encourage them to appreciate one another’s value and purpose. You can also do this by publicly praising different members of the team, when appropriate.
James Milligan is director of Hays Digital Technology for Ireland, the UK and EMEA.