Leadership is a challenging concept. Yet when one mixes factors associated with a remote team, such as limited communication, disengagement, and different time-zones, it becomes even more chaotic and difficult. Unlike traditional work environments, leading a remote team tends to be more disorienting, time-consuming, and complex.
In today’s world, technology changed the way people do business and as a result work took on a different dynamic. Many professionals now opt to work from the comfort of their homes or anywhere with an internet connection. Organizations benefit from this as well, as it gives them an opportunity to save money and hire the best talent without limiting themselves to geographical restrictions. With the increasing globalization and diversification of industries, this trend will only continue to grow.
What does this mean for managers and leaders? The prevailing popularity of remote work not only changed the way businesses operate, but also the way managers must lead. Most leaders are used to regular in-person communication, yet those working with a remote team must learn how to direct, engage, and unify their staff amidst no physical proximity
Here are 5 tips that will be beneficial to managers and leaders in tackling a team beyond the geographical boundaries-
One aspect of mobile training is using offline gadgets. However, for workers that have internet access, but mostly work in the field, give them access to mobile apps. They can log in whenever there’s connectivity and study in spurts. This might actually work out to be cheaper because one does not have to buy designated electronics. Trainees can simply install their study apps on their existing phones. In addition, consider creating a podcast that customer support teams can listen to on-the-go.
Exercise programs are more successful when one has a training buddy. This is true whether it’s a cross-fit gym or marathon training. One’s partner ramps up your competitive spirit and psyches one up when you want to skip a session. Among your team, create pairs or trios where one member sits at HQ and the other is remote. They can collaborate on training activities and each one will gain some of their partner’s knowledge base.
Humans are visual beings, which means that regular face-to-face contact is essential to effective communication. Body language and tone play a huge role in creating meaningful and impactful messages. However the lack of visual cues in most tools used by remote teams, such as texting, email, or chat, can make it harder to collaborate. Incorporate tools such as Skype or video conferencing rather than relying on writing or calling.
Online meetings should have no more than 10 participants. If the meeting is larger than that, it’s best to keep it to a maximum of 30 minutes and have clear agendas before it starts. This will help you maintain everyone’s attention and demonstrate a productive and practical mindset. When doing lenghthy video conferences, remember to also limit the time of each speaker, and schedule breaks.
4.Set Clear Goals and Expectations
This is the best way to establish accountability and ensure everyone on the team is doing their part. In remote teams with limited communication channels, employees may have different interpretations of goals and the role each employee plays in achieving them.
For this reason, leaders must have a chat with every team member to clarify these goals, as well as expectations and measurable individual objectives. Clarify when you expect your team to be “online” as well. For example, to be reachable by phone, text, email, chat, or otherwise, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Stimulate accountability further by setting up a system where employees post their daily or weekly goals, and have them check off what they accomplished. Consider using scheduling software such as Asana, Wrike, JIRA, and Basecamp, to give remote employees more structure, encourage them to plan ahead, and help them identify which targets they need help with.
While remote work has many perks, two of the main downsides are feeling isolated and disconnected. These feelings correlate with a loss of engagement. What are the symptoms of unengaged employees? Lack of motivation, involvement, initiation, imagination, and participation are just a few.
Use tools such as Slack, Hipchat, Stride, Google Chats, and Skype to allow the team to talk in real time. This will encourage employees to share ideas, thoughts, and updates throughout the day, and will help them connect and relate to each other through personal chit-chat. Try incorporating small talk into group meetings as well. Spend a few minutes at the start of each meeting asking how everyone’s week was and discussing personal updates.
Try becoming available to employees as friends too rather than just being a colleague. When employees form a connection with a leader on an emotional level, they will start enjoying working along with him/her, which will in-turn make them more productive assets.