How Leaders Can Develop Great Remote Management Skills
If you are a business owner or project manager, you may have wondered how good you are at leading a remote team. This is a pressing question for many leaders these days, particularly because more and more people are transitioning from working from home part-time or full-time, and many employees are even hoping to make it a permanent arrangement. Learning the correct management skills is key to successfully leading a remote team.
However, managing remote workers is more challenging than managing employees who come to the office every day. This is one of the main reasons some leaders are sceptical about allowing their employees to transition to a remote environment.
The challenges of managing a successful remote team shouldn’t put you off, though. There are many more advantages of remote work than challenges, so here’s how you can develop great remote management skills as a leader.
1. Practice what you preach
In order to become a successful remote manager and have the key management skills, it’s essential that you have first-hand remote work experience yourself. This is the best way to see how you can deal with the challenges associated with remote work. Try to relocate to your home office for at least a couple of weeks or months. If that’s not possible, try to work from the coffee shop near your office.
By doing this, you will be able to speak from experience when managing a distributed team. Trying the remote experience yourself will also improve your empathy when dealing with problems your team members may experience over time.
2. Fine-tune your communication skills
When your only contact with the team member is by phone, text, email, or video chat, it’s vital to be a clear communicator. Not being able to see someone face-to-face poses a greater danger for misunderstandings, so you need to make sure that no one misses out on essential information.
Make sure you schedule regular check-ins and communicate with your team members by phone or email regularly. If you’re ever in doubt about your remote communication skills, it’s never a bad idea to work with a coach or one of your fellow managers to sharpen your skills.
3. Invest in the right tools for your company’s routines
There’s never been a better time to manage your team remotely from a technology point of view. Even though managing the remote team has its challenges, the good news is that there are many solutions available today that make it possible to communicate and collaborate at the highest of standards.
The number and types of tools that you can use will vary according to the type of business you run and the services you offer. Still, at a minimum, you should have a reliable chat tool for status updates and quick check-ins, a cloud storage drive where you can share files with the rest of the team, and a videoconferencing solution for your remote meetings.
Most successful remote managers use a project management system to keep everything in check on the same platform. A tool like Asana or Trello makes it is easy to centralize project plans, files, details and feedback, coordinate cross-functional work and improve team collaboration.
4. Always be consistent
Being consistent is important for every manager but especially vital when it comes to remote teams. Regular check-ins are essential with the entire team or one-on-one are essential. Even if there is no pressing matter to discuss, you shouldn’t cancel them without reason because your employees may read the wrong meaning into misses meetings.
It’s quite easy for employees who are stuck working at home to feel cut off and develop feelings of insecurity. This would eventually lead to a loss of productivity, so make sure everyone knows what to expect from you at all times by being as consistent and transparent as possible.
5. Sharpen your listening skills
Even though it’s often overlooked, listening may be the most important remote management skill you should develop. If you don’t encourage employees to talk to you and really listen to what they say, you will be missing essential signals and information.
One of the best ways to make sure your employees are feeling listened to is to call them from time to time and simply ask how things are going. Listen to their answers and if you notice that someone is struggling, make sure you discuss all issues in detail and suggest solutions that aren’t just best for the company but also best for your employee.
6. Use videoconferencing for teambuilding
Videoconferences are great for communicating and collaborating on projects with the entire team, no matter where in the world its members are located. However, you can also harness the power of videoconferencing to build company culture and allow everyone on the team to get to know each other better.
For example, you can organize weekly events for people to hang out and encourage everyone to participate. These meetings are essential for those who want to maintain some semblance of the office social life and can also reduce social isolation and improve morale. Remember that happy employees are productive employees, so in the end, everyone wins if you manage to build a strong team.
7. Don’t micromanage
Staying out of the way to allow everyone to do their job is one of the best things you can do when managing a remote team. No one likes to be micromanaged, whether in an office environment or a distributed team, so as long as you are confident that you’ve hired people who are competent at their jobs, you need to learn how to trust that they will perform well without you checking on them relentlessly.
It’s important to communicate often and address issues that may arise, but it is even more important to learn that you don’t need to manage every aspect of your employees’ performance because this is a quick-fire way to demolish their morale.
Building and managing a remote or distributed team may not come naturally for everyone. However, by mastering the key concepts and management skills above, you can learn how to lead your remote team through good and bad times.
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