To be a manager has never been an easy task. On the business side, you are responsible for your team’s progress, performance, and time management, but on the human side, you also have to be compassionate, patient, and considerate.
All of the nuances of the job could be noticed a little bit easier when you talk in person with everyone.
However, that’s not the case anymore.
Our 3veta team is also working remotely, so we know first-handily the struggles and we’re here to advise you with our guide to remote team management.
What is remote team management?
Remote team management is the glue between the company’s aspirations and the individual tasks and experiences that take place virtually.
It is the ability to know what your business needs and be acquainted with your team members’ professional skills well enough to guide them despite any technological difficulties.
Why is remote team management important?
The answer to this question is quite straightforward.
We’ll explain it a bit more figuratively. Imagine that you are going on a road trip with your friends. You have a clear idea of your destination, so the place where you’re headed is your goal.
You also have a vehicle that will help you get there, that’s your company’s structure and resources.
You also have your friends, each one of them with an assigned role – a driver, a DJ, a snack provider, etc. They are your team members with expertise in different fields.
However, each road trip needs one more essential thing to be successfully completed.
The map is the team manager. And if it’s a GPS then you can call it a remote team manager.
The ‘GPS’ gives everyone a direction to follow and makes sure that your team doesn’t get off track.
It also sends reminders about what the final destination is, notifies if there’re any obstructions on the road, and suggests an alternative route.
Remote team management provides the guidance and support that team members fundamentally need to achieve their goals.
But what else?
Boosts productivity (meetings, time management, communication)
Good remote team management boosts employees’ productivity, which results in greater efficiency and benefits to the company.
Some signs that you are doing a good job are:
- When your online meetings are meaningful and with active participation.
- Everyone in the company is excelling at time management and keeping deadlines.
- Employees and employers feel equally open to communicating with each other, sharing what’s on their minds, offering feedback, and suggesting new ideas.
Builds company work culture
Remote team management ensures that everyone is familiar with and integrated into the company’s work culture.
Because the company’s work culture is one of the most fundamental aspects of every business. It is the values and goals of the company, it promotes a certain way of thinking, behaving, and working.
And if you are just at the beginning of your career, work culture is what builds your character as a professional.
What are the challenges of managing remotely?
Forbes states that two of the major challenges that companies face when they hire international workers are overcoming language barriers and having to deal with training logistics.
However, we’d like to add to the list. Our goal is not to scare you but to fully prepare you.
86% of executives identify ineffective collaboration and communication as major causes of failure in business.
When you speak to people indirectly – via email, skype, or another text messaging platform, misunderstandings will occur.
You have to master various remote communication techniques to eliminate the risk of ineffective collaboration.
Tracking work and productivity
Another challenge is ensuring that everyone is engaged with the task and dedicated to its completion.
When you are in a physical office it’s easy to spot when someone is not at their desk. However, working from home offers no guarantee that your teammates won’t fall victim to all the distractions.
International remote teams are all fun and games until you reach that point where you all have to coordinate your schedules and set the time and date of your next meeting.
Time zones, different schedules, frequent traveling, and many other details have to be taken into account so that everyone could be present.
Last but not least, this remote-work challenge is related not so much to logistics but to our human side. Teammates must build trust!
Because trust is what gets you out of the pit when times are tough, deadlines are approaching, clients are complaining, bosses are nagging, and work is not going so well.
And it is kind of difficult to build trust with just a name, a picture, and a few text messages per day.
What remote team management skills do you need?
According to HBR, a team manager’s job is to make sure that “every person feels like they are one part of a larger, unified team”.
But how do you achieve that? What type of skills and abilities a good remote team manager should possess?
Here are our top picks.
You have to be communicative.
This could be a struggle for introverted people, but you have to be the one who approaches all the others and asks for updates, reports, asks if they need something, if everything is going well.
You cannot wait to see if someone will raise their voice. You have to be the one pushing for and promoting open communication.
And talking about communication in a remote environment, your number-one best friend will be your video conferencing software.
For instance, 3veta not only allows you to create instant meetings fast and seamlessly and share the link with anyone, but you can also arrange a permanent meeting room that you can use repeatedly.
You are also welcome to organize a booking page where team members can schedule an appointment with you.
💡 Pro tip
Arranging the time and date of your team meeting could be a piece of cake if you use a shared team calendar. Find out more.
Even if you don’t expect it, issues will arise. And you have to keep your cool and face them consciously.
Your job is to find a way out no matter how deep in the mud your team is.
There’s always a solution, you just have to join forces, find the roots of the problem and decide on the best way to uproot it.
With the manager’s title comes a lot of responsibility.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in two minds about something. It could be minor, or it could be huge, but what happens next will be up to you.
You have to be mentally prepared for making decisions that could affect the future of a project, a campaign, or even someone’s career.
Now, this is probably one of the most important qualities every leader should have.
Leaders hold power and often power makes their vision blurred and prevents them from taking the right path.
Being self-aware means that you know your strengths but you also know your weaknesses and you can look at a particular situation and assess it realistically.
Being empathetic is yet another quality that managers should have because it gives them the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes and be understanding.
This is crucial when it comes to handling difficult situations, offering a piece of advice, and making decisions.
How can you improve your remote management skills?
The truth is, there is not just one correct answer to that question.
You have to experiment and see what works best for your team’s needs.
Here are a bunch of tips that could help you level up your remote team management game.
Educate yourself on the struggles of remote management
You might already feel like you’ve crossed that one off the list but in this article, we only presented some of the challenges.
You have to do your research in order to tackle the issues successfully.
Also, keep in mind that those struggles will vary from one field of work to another.
So, even if you are familiar with the most basic ones, go the extra mile and educate yourself on that matter.
If you want to be there for everyone you have to learn how to manage your time efficiently and be flexible.
Although it would be nice to have a structured remote work plan, don’t follow it blindly just because it makes you feel more organized.
Prioritize what’s going on at the moment and leave some of the not-so-urgent tasks for tomorrow if there’s an emergency.
We’ve already mentioned how important is to trust your colleagues.
It is even more important for employees to trust their manager.
This gives them hope that they are following the right person and that they’re going in the right direction.
Building relationships with team members and colleagues from other departments facilitates communication and increases the levels of motivation within the organization.
Know your team
Know your teammates’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and use them wisely.
This way you’ll be able to distribute the workload fairly and everything will be done more efficiently.
You can either pair up a few people for the completion of a particular task or ask another department for help in time.
The setting of expectations is crucial to make sure that everyone is performing well and that the results are of the same quality.
Make sure to let everyone know what you want them to achieve and how you want them to get there.
This is particularly important because remote teams are usually composed of people coming from different backgrounds that are used to different work models.
You have to provide a common ground for everyone.
Create clear communication guidelines
Since communication is one of the biggest challenges for remote managers, it is not a bad idea to create clear communication guidelines for everyone to follow.
This could be the bare minimum, the foundation of everyone’s work conversations.
Those guidelines will ensure that misunderstandings are avoided, people are behaving professionally, and everyone is equally responsive.
Feedback is intrinsic to every organization’s structure and work process. It has numerous benefits.
Firstly, it shows employees that you care about their opinion and you are willing to listen.
Secondly, it gives employers and managers insights into some smaller but equally important details that might’ve been overlooked previously.
And lastly, it’s the wheel of progress. You’ll be able to change things that don’t work way faster if you ask those who speak from first-hand experience.
Provide the right tools
Remember the analogy we made with the road trip? How would you get to your final destination if you don’t have the right vehicle?
And how would your team members achieve what you’re asking from them without having the right remote work tools?
Remote teams require communication platforms, collaboration tools, meeting management software, and different devices in order to fulfill their true potential.
Provide emotional support
And even though you will rely mostly on machines to get the job done, don’t forget that there are humans on the other side of the screen.
Provide them emotional support if they need it and do your best to prevent them from experiencing burnout.
Get your team together physically once in a while
It might not be always possible, but gathering the team in person from time to time is extremely important for forming bonds and building trust.
Team-building activities could be also organized virtually but let’s be honest, they are way more fun offline.
Be visible and approachable
Ensuring that you are easily reachable by everyone is a must. As a team manager, you’ll be your team’s go-to person at all times.
Make it as easy as possible for them to contact you or book a meeting with you should any concerns arise. After all, you are not only your team member’s boss but their mentor as well.
Maintain constant communication
Constant communication means that you and your team keep each other posted regularly.
Regular stand-up meetings can help you check on all team members and see if everything is going smoothly or not.
Communicating with your team on a daily basis, even if you’re using the asynchronous model, will allow you to keep an eye on every work process and save money from having to do corrections.
Prioritize one-on-one time
One-on-one meetings are also recommendable because team managers usually won’t be able to pay attention to the needs and concerns of each individual during team sessions.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have your booking page where you can submit your availability for your employees to see. In case they need to ask something, seek assistance, or simply talk, they can easily reach you.
It is also crucial for you to maintain a positive attitude no matter what happens. Of course, sometimes things won’t go as planned but being grim and short-tempered won’t change the situation for the better.
Controlling your emotions is a key skill that every professional should develop early on in their career.
Remote teams are the new normal in the business world. So, team managers and leaders are also slowly but surely adapting to the changes.
Although remote teams do not differentiate much from regular on-site teams, there are some tricks that managers should appropriate to compensate for the lack of in-person interactions.
We hope that this guide has inspired you to learn more about the topic and improve your management skills.