Effective Remote Management Techniques
Managers around the world have recently had a rude awakening. With the onset of the pandemic came wide-spread remote working that simply had to be supported so that businesses could continue in as normal a way as possible. But the home working trend has been on the rise for years- many companies have struggled to move with the times or simply haven’t wanted to deviate from the path well-travelled. Well, buckle up because now is the time my friends!
Modern professionals expect flexibility, mutual respect and trust from their employers – all of which come in to play when we’re talking remote-working.
Pssst… we think these expectations should really be the bare minimum among colleagues!
Here at MadeYou we pride ourselves on celebrating change and being proactive in our approach – and that includes the way in which our team, and those of our clients, are encouraged to work. So, just to be helpful, we’ve launched a training programme for managers.
The course will get you up to speed with the changes you may face in this new world of home working and online communication and give you the confidence you need to continue to lead without stress, without micro-managing and without hours of video calls. Here we round up some key points from the course to get those taste buds tingling!
Changing Your Management Style from Working Hours to Outputs
Lesson one. You can no longer judge your team based on how many hours they spend at their desks.
To manage workers remotely, you need to shift your thinking and become way more results driven. Are your team hitting their targets? Are they producing great work and working well together despite the physical distance?
In this new world, it doesn’t matter when, where or how much time they spend in their chair as long as they are producing good quality work. Let that sink in.
Now, to be results-driven, you first need to know what results you want and need. If you don’t have a clear vision of the ideal output in your mind then you won’t know if you’re happy with their progress or not – you can’t steer your team towards an unknown goal so, with each project you spearhead, make sure you have clear markers of success in mind.
Assigning Work in an Effective Way
If knowing your end goal is job number one, then here comes job number two: your team need to know what their personal, individual requirements are. Everyone on your team needs to know exactly what they should be working on and what outputs they are expected to deliver.
We can no longer rely on over-arching job descriptions and being physically present to ensure that the job is being done. Annual plans may have been a useful tool in the physical office environment, but they are pretty much useless when managing remotely. Your team needs to know what they should be working on right now.
Instructions should be clear, specific and detail the manner in which the work should be done. Invite questions from the outset and answer them in full (rush through the initial project set-up at your peril). Ideally, you will know your team well and have an understanding of how best to communicate with them individually – some may be better off with written outlines while another might appreciate a phone call to chat it through.
Make sure the end goal, initial requirements and the process for updating you about where they’re at is crystal clear as well as the way you’d like them to share their progress with each other. It’s easier to have confidence that your team are cracking on when you can see the progress easily and clearly- this also avoids any under-communicating (which may result in missed deadlines or poor quality of work) or over-communicating (which may result in tasks actually taking longer to be completed, a lack of motivation and a sense of micro-managing from the other side of the laptop).
Visual progress tracking also means you can catch any deviation from the game-plan in good time to deliver helpful feedback at the right moment and implement any necessary course adjustments.
Understanding the Correct Way to Deliver Feedback
As a manager, you’ll hopefully understand the importance of constructive, clear, future-paced feedback. This could be a challenging part of the job for some managers even when face to face with their team – the added challenge when working remotely is that the small social cues that might have told you ‘now is not the time’ are not as easy to pick up on from behind a laptop screen.
Our advice is to proactively reach out to your team on a regular basis. Whether that be a scheduled individual video call or just a random phone call to each of your team members at some point during the week – the idea is to keep in touch well enough that you can pick up on their personal state of mind.
Ask them what they’re working on, what’s gone well that week and what they’re struggling with while jumping at the opportunity to offer advice, lay on some praise or just offer an ear.
Consider your surroundings when arranging these catch-ups – will you give and receive the same vibe sitting at your desks as you would if you sat on the sofa with a coffee in hand? The best decisions and ideas flow when we are relaxed – that doesn’t change based on where we are or by what method we’re communicating. Relaxed atmospheres lead to relaxed conversations which leads to focus.
By all means schedule regular team meetings but make sure the objective of the meeting is clear to you and all other attendees as well as the level of involvement you expect from all attendees – including if its video or just audio. When it comes to video chats, watch people’s body language but try not to be put off by what may appear to be distractions as long as they are participating at the level you need (they may just be referencing information on another screen/taking notes).
A side note on video calling… don’t do it for the sake of it. Remote working isn’t about recreating an office environment by virtual means and constant video calling can be incredibly distracting, draining and counter-productive.
When it comes to handling a conflict or confusion about something, get everyone who’s affected by the set-back on a video call pronto. Have an open, professional discussion about the impact of the issue and mediate effectively to preserve and improve working relationships. Avoid the blame game at all times but encourage your team to feel confident in taking ownership of their mistakes – we’re all human.
Developing Key Remote Workers
The switch to remote working can feel all-consuming in itself but it’s vital not to overlook the training and development that your team is most likely still craving. Continue to invest in their personal development and reap the benefits.
Make sure you understand their goals, ambitions, wants and needs – benchmark these against your own wish list for their progression and then get stuck into a training plan for them (or allow them to arrange their own CPD with your wishes in mind).
Teams that feel invested in and supported will work that little bit harder for their managers. We promise.
Looking After Your Team on a Personal Level
Lastly, the human element. Remote working can be something of an emotional challenge for some people and there’s a distinct danger of people feeling a little ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
For some, the office environment was their escape from their responsibilities at home, their safe place or, in a surprisingly high number of cases, their only source of human interaction, camaraderie and socialisation.
It’s your job as a manager to have an awareness of any vulnerabilities in your team and to adapt your management style accordingly. Your actions, tone and awareness can alleviate feelings of loneliness, isolation and entrapment in a huge way- and happy people produce great work.
Make sure not every call, message, email or meeting is focused entirely on work. You would have chatted about that TV series you’re all obsessed with, that football game the other night or even each other’s dating lives while making coffee in the office kitchen- personal conversations are still okay!
Maybe schedule a daily team coffee morning to have a personal catch up before the day starts. Maybe simply make sure to check in on a personal level with your team once a week- but certainly never be scared to allow your team to ‘waste time’ talking about personal matters. It’s important for their continued collaboration and personal happiness and should be encourages as long as it doesn’t impact negatively on the all-important results.
So, if you’ve read this and sensed some room for improvement in your own remote-management toolkit then maybe, just maybe, this course is for you. Invest in yourself and your team by setting yourself up for success.
You can sign up for the ‘Managing Remote Workers’ Training Course here.