Remote teams can be an effective resource for any business, large or small. Their flexibility and often diverse skillset can improve project times and add an extra quality to boost to your work. But with the distance factor comes difficulty in managing them. Here are some ways to more effectively manage your remote teams so you can make the most out of them.
Communication is key to managing any team, but especially a remote one. Keeping the team updated with deadlines and project requirements when different time zones are a factor can be extremely challenging and often frustrating.
The first step you can take toward better communication is contacting your team at least once a week via email, phone call, or even a conference call. When you know how to set up a conference call, you’re putting yourself ahead of the curve. Getting the entire team in a call at once is the best way to relay difficult information and ensure that everyone comprehends it.
Frequent contact with your remote team not only lets them know that you value their contributions but also ensures that deadlines are communicated and therefore are more likely to be met. A weekly call or email is arguably a requirement for managing remote teams.
You can also utilize a synchronized calendar, such as Google Calendar, to set due dates and events that you can share with the team. The event will require an RSVP, and will then sync to their calendar, where they’ll receive reminders as the date approaches.
Team Management Software
Team management software is a simple concept, taking collaboration and accountability to the web and providing users with a “base” of sorts to work from. This is a great tool for remote teams because it keeps everyone accountable and allows the manager to assign projects to an individual, or to multiple members of the team.
One such platform is called Flow. Flow offers a simple user interface to assign projects, set deadlines, and receive updates. You and your team will know exactly who is responsible for which part of the project and Flow will update you as the project progresses.
The project timeline feature lets you plan ahead and effectively organize future projects and deadlines. If you’ve never tried a team management platform before, Flow is great for beginners and veterans alike. With a simple interface and easy to use tools, you’ll be on your way to effective team management in just a few minutes.
Set Clear Expectations
This goes hand in hand with clear communication and can be augmented with team management software. You must be clear with the team about what your expectations for each member and the team as a whole are.
This includes project deadlines, communication frequency, payment and payment methods, and anything else that pertains to the job. Without very clear expectations, confusion occurs, tempers flare, and the team begins to fall apart.
As soon as you hire a new remote team member, you should set your expectations, and provide them in writing. That way if there are any questions or problems down the line, you’ll have a written document to refer to on what your original expectations were.
Remote employees are people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that behind the screen, there is a whole person with a life of their own that may include troubles or obstacles. If you notice a remote employee struggling with deadlines or projects, reach out and offer a listening ear.
Mental health is an important factor in the everyday lives of everyone on the planet, and this includes your team members. Patternized negative behavior, withdrawal from projects and people, and frequently missed deadlines could be an indication that something isn’t quite right.
Valuing your employees’ mental health will not only gain their respect but also ensure that your team has resources available to them should they find themselves struggling. Don’t forget that everyone needs help sometimes.
Provide The Right Tools For The Job
A team is only as good as the tools you provide them with. While certain aspects of the job will require team members to have certain tools they acquire on their own, you should be providing the necessary tools for your team to achieve success.
This includes any software, communication tools, or other assets the team may require to complete projects on time. It’s your responsibility as the manager to make sure your team is synchronized, remains on task, and utilizes the tools you provide to get the job done.
Flexibility is a must with remote teams. Differing time zones make for different schedules, and your team members likely have other responsibilities you’ll have to keep in mind. Focus on allowing your team members flexibility in when they work on the project to accommodate their busy schedules.
Of course, if you find that you’re granting too much flexibility to a project, you’ll likely notice the team is procrastinating or not meeting deadlines. Flexibility doesn’t mean whenever they want, it simply means that you’re willing to work with them on time constraints. Deadlines don’t change and should be enforced, but how the team gets there can depend largely on flexibility.
In Other Words…
A good team is a product of good leadership. Keep lines of communication open, expectations clear, and the tools for the job readily available, and your team will perform like a well-oiled machine. Don’t forget about mental health and support, and always remember that you’re working with people.