Leadership: How To Successfully Manage Your Remote Team
As technology advances and the focus on work-life balance becomes ever more critical, remote and home working has been growing in popularity. Globally, 70% of people work from home at least once a week, while over half of people work from home for at least half the week. In 2020, it’s expected that 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely.
While remote working offers many benefits for both employers and employees alike; it can bring considerable challenges. For example, managing, leading and motivating a remote team is very different from a traditional office set up. So, how can you ensure you’re an effective leader for your team when you are rarely in the same room? Here is some of the best advice from the experts on how to adapt to the increasingly common set up;
It is famously said that only 7% of what we communicate is verbal. Body language and tone of voice account for 93% of communication. However, when you are communicating with remote workers, especially over email or apps, it can be hard to make yourself clear. Without visual cues, it is essential to ensure you clearly communicate all of the information and sentiment in other ways.
With this in mind, it can help to adopt a ‘guide’ rather than a ‘lead’ approach. Think about the ways you can provide more detail and make every task or explanation as clear as possible.
It is also worth asking your remote workers what their common communication frustrations are and how you can help to make their path clear.
Whether you’re rattling off another email in a meeting or you are calling in between two appointments, you are not giving your caller your full attention. For remote leadership to be successful, the leader needs to deploy active listening skills. Your team members will want to know that they have your full attention, especially as remote workers can already feel isolated from the business.
There are some great way to demonstrate active listening when talking to remote workers, such as;
- Make sure to ask questions to confirm understanding
- Paraphrase at the end of the conversation to ensure you’ve covered and remembered every point
- Only call when you are free from distractions
- Always ask if they have anything else that they’d like to discuss or ask
- Check that they’re happy and fully understand any task that you are delegating to them.
Book in regular check-ins
Remote workers can often feel expendable to the business and not really part of the organisation and its goals. With regular check-ins, you can make sure that all of your remote staff are up to date with the latest business news, updates and changes.
It is easy to assume that not hearing from remote workers is good news and vice versa. However, your remote workers will come to fear and dread hearing from you if you only contact them when a problem arises. Giving praise and positive catch-ups can help to eliminate the stress for remote workers.
But, step back with delegation
If you have delegated a task to a remote worker, trust them to complete the job satisfactorily. Don’t be overbearing or continuously checking up on the progress. Your remote employees will love the feeling of empowerment and trust you have given and will be motivated to succeed. If you are overbearing, they will be less motivated and less determined to succeed as they cannot take ownership of the project.
When delegating, make sure the brief is completely clear, and the employee is happy with the task. Then, mutually agree contact times and milestones, so you both have as much interaction that is necessary without mollycoddling.
Think outside the box
Motivating and improving morale with remote workers is often much harder than when you have the team altogether in one place. With this in mind, it is essential to be creative with the best ways to motivate your workers;
- Offer regular praise, congratulations and appreciations for a job well done
- Seek out training opportunities that can enhance their talents
- Look for ways you can add laughter, humour and fun to your team communications
- Consider remote team activities to strengthen relationships, from games to sweepstakes
- Prioritise wellbeing practices such as recognising birthdays, being flexible with working hours and taking an interest in unique skills, hobbies and interests.
Keep it human
Without interaction with your remote workers, the way they consistently deliver work without being seen can feel robotic. However, all of your remote workers are humans, with lives, feelings, circumstances and ideas. While remote workers can seem faceless, it is important to remember that there is another human on the other side of the computer screen.
Make sure you take the time to get to know the human behind the work and take an interest in their lives. Even starting an email with a personal gesture can really make your remote worker feel special. All of these small gestures and interactions can help to strengthen your relationship and your workers will be more supportive in your position as a leader.
By following these approaches, you’ll soon notice a stronger and happier relationship with your remote workers. When you’re all on the same page, it can help remote workers to feel included and an integral part of the business. So, what steps can you implement to improve your remote worker relationships?