How to manage remote employees
Effective management is the foundation of any successful organization. Simply put, well-managed teams know what’s expected of them and how to achieve it. While managing in-person teams has its own set of challenges, managing remote teams comes with unique complexities.
Even though you may not get as much one-on-one time with your dispersed workforce as you would with an in-office staff, there are still ways you can manage your remote team effectively. And there are far-reaching benefits of putting in some extra time and attention to put strong management practices in place. Here’s a closer look at how to manage remote employees successfully and how it will pay off for your business and teams.
Effectively manage employees remotely
Set clear expectations
Just as you would in the office, you’ll need to be clear in terms of what you expect for deliverables from your remote teams. Explain steps, deadlines, and other terms of projects with them in detail. Discuss priorities and consider breaking larger projects into smaller milestones to make them more manageable.
Consider using a task management system or similar tool to keep your dispersed teams on track. These tools allow multiple contributors to view tasks with details about assignments and deadlines. Tasks and subtasks can be assigned to individual contributors and given individual due dates, so everyone is aware of the progress and various deadlines.
Remote employees expect flexibility in their schedule, so it’s important for you to give them some freedom in terms of work hours. Whether they work in the morning, afternoon, or evening shouldn’t matter. What does matter, however, is that the work gets done on time and meets or exceeds expectations. When it’s possible to do so, determine what needs to be done during set hours and where employees might have some leeway.
Even though you may not be able to see your employees working at their desks, that doesn’t mean the work isn’t getting done. Getting periodic updates on progress provides peace of mind because you can track project statuses and make sure teams have the support and resources they need. Meeting with employees every other week is usually enough time for people to make meaningful headway on tasks and implement any feedback.
While routine check-ins are important for keeping the lines of communication open, you’ll want to avoid micromanaging your remote team. Asking for too many updates can make employees feel suffocated or as if you don’t trust them to get the work done. Give them the opportunity to work at the time and pace that best suits them. As long as they’re attending scheduled meetings and completing quality work on time, they’re effectively fulfilling their roles.
Encourage strong communication
Clear, consistent communication is an important component on both sides of any remote work arrangement. While some managers use a single communication tool for their entire remote team, others find that adapting to each employee’s preferences yields better results. For example, some employees may prefer to communicate by email, while others may prefer using a chat tool. Find out what your employees prefer and accommodate their preferences when possible. Communicating with an entire team may still require different methods than communicating with an individual.
It can be challenging to find the balance between constant messaging and near-silence, but typically remote teams establish a rhythm for communication the longer they work together. And don’t forget that listening is a critical element of strong communication. Encourage feedback from your team, either by soliciting it directly or using an anonymous survey tool. Be sure to act on it, too, which will show that you’re committed to providing a great employee experience for them.
Of course, feedback goes both ways. Celebrate your teams’ wins and explain what they’ve done well when they’ve tackled an important project successfully. This will help them understand precisely what you’re looking for when it comes to future projects and will also help them see how much their contributions are appreciated.
The advantages of effective remote management
Effectively managing your remote teammates will empower them to become productive, self-sufficient members of your organization. Maintaining strong communication, offering feedback and acknowledgment for the work they do, and trusting their ability to get tasks done successfully will help them feel connected to the company—something that can become challenging for remote workers. Since remote employees don’t get the traditional in-office experience, it’s even more important for managers to cultivate a sense of connection and strong working relationships with this group. Fortunately, your guidance can help remote team members avoid feelings of isolation, help them stay focused and engaged, and encourage them to continue providing their best work.
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