These days, managers should expect to face the reality of remote teamwork at one point or another. Many companies are today built on exclusively or partially remote environments – as you can imagine, managing workers who are scattered all over the country or world is quite a challenge. It’s very likely that at some point in your career, you’ll be managing remote professionals and you better be prepared for that.
Here are 5 leadership tips to help you deliver successful projects when managing a team of dispersed workers.
1. Communicate Your Goals
The entire team should be on the same page when it comes to the goals of your project. With everyone on board, you can expect your team to cooperate seamlessly and deliver your objectives. Articulating your goals clearly is key and you should do it periodically when all workers are present – for instance, during a video-conference. Encourage them to ask questions and help them improve their understanding of the project.
2. Foster Collaboration
Communication is key to maintaining a streamlined process of project development, so it’s in your best interest to develop practices and introduce tools which make it much easier for workers to keep in touch with each other and you. You can try to keep an open chatroom where team members leave messages for you or others to read where they won’t be distracting.
You should set regular face to face meetings with your team – they’ll help you to deliver key non-verbal feedback about their performance. You should be able to distinguish between various modes of communication and provide a policy where you specify which ones will be used in which contexts – sometimes you can communicate much faster with a telephone call instead of an e-mail back and forth. Train your team to recognize their right tool for the job.
3. Use the Right Tools
Virtual meetings and conferences are crucial for maintaining a team spirit and ensuring that workers are aware of the project’s development on many fronts. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there to help you organize such meetings. Try Jing for screen sharing – it enables to capture screenshots, insert notes, labels, and arrows to make your point.
Join.me or teamviewer.com are both tools which are great for live screen sharing – key when you’re discussing particular problems or want to review snippets of code together. You can also use apps like the VEED.IO or the InVideo to easily edit your videos, launch marketing campaigns, share information across many recipients, and provide clear instructions on a topic or subject. Some of these tools (and many more) allow for remote control of a device – just perfect when you need to address something specific.
4. Set Clear Expectations, But Be Flexible
Remote project management should involve a degree of flexibility. Once you establish a great relationship with team members, ensure that they know what your expectations are and trust them to be there when you need them. That’s when you can easily grant your team an amount of freedom. Remote workers value autonomy – providing a comfortable working environment is your single best strategy for improving their output. Just set the rules of the game first.
5. Build A Company Culture
Creating and maintaining a company culture in a team of dispersed workers is a challenge every manager must face. If you don’t pay enough attention to this seemingly insignificant aspect of project development, you risk losing a key value that makes your team special – the team spirit.
You can build your company culture by humanizing your modes of communication and organizing a yearly company retreat where team members get to perform activities together. You should encourage the team to share leadership with you instead of just delegating tasks to each member. Getting a chance to show the initiative, workers will become more engaged with the project.
Managing a remote team isn’t easy, but with technological know-how and great company, culture managers can make it work, creating a team which is physically dispersed, but mentally on the same page.
Question: Have you ever worked in a remote team? Do you know how to manage remote teams? Please leave your thoughts or comments here!