With the rise of remote work and new ways of working in organisations, managers are increasingly having to manage remote teams. This is not easy, and challenges traditional face-to-face management methods.
How do you keep team members motivated and productive? How do you help them to manage their time effectively? How can you ensure your role as manager on a daily basis without becoming a micro-manager? How can you maintain team cohesion, a sense of belonging and employee commitment?
To answer all these questions, discover 8 tips to help you manage your team remotely.
1. Learn to trust
Trust is the fundamental element of a relationship between a manager and his team. And this is even more true when the team is geographically dispersed. As a manager, your role is not to constantly check that your employees have done their job properly. You must be able to delegate and give assignments to your team without taking over everything.
Of course, trust is built up over time, and your employees must also prove to you that they are trustworthy. But in teleworking, this is a prerequisite. Remember that you have chosen your employees for their skills and experience and remember that everyone has the right to make mistakes.
2. Set rules
For your team to function properly at a distance, it is essential to set a framework and define rules. Your employees need to know what they can and cannot do, and what is expected of them.
Agree together on the following points
- working hours and availability (e.g. no messages and calls before 8.30 a.m. and after 7 p.m.)
- how to communicate on a daily basis (e.g. say good morning every morning when you start work and goodbye when you finish your day);
- how to communicate in an emergency;
- how to work (the validation process, the procedure in case of mistakes, etc.).
3. Define objectives and KPIs
This step is essential for all teams, whether they are face-to-face, remote or hybrid. To be effective on a daily basis, each of your employees must have a clear vision of the results expected of them. As a manager, you must therefore define clear objectives. To do this, use the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable and Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). This way you and your team have a common vision.
Don’t forget to also define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that tell you whether the objectives set are being achieved and to evaluate the performance of your team. This is also a good way to keep your team motivated.
4. Encourage communication
Communication is the glue that holds a dispersed team together. As a manager, you should strongly encourage regular communication between your remote team members, using all available tools (telephone, email, chat, video, etc.).
There are two types of communication:
- formal communication, which deals with the progress of the project, the tasks to be carried out, any problems to be solved, etc., particularly during meetings
- informal communication, which concerns the free discussions your employees have to share their opinions, feelings and doubts, but also to get to know each other and to discuss more personal matters during virtual coffee breaks or chat rooms.
Both types of communication are very important for progressing your project and achieving your objectives, as well as for maintaining cohesion within the team.
5. Opt for telework-friendly tools
In order for your employees to be able to carry out their daily tasks efficiently, it is essential that you provide them with telework-friendly collaborative tools.
Here are some essential tools to facilitate collaboration and communication within your remote team:
- project management software such as Wimi;
- instant messaging;
- a video conferencing system;
- a corporate social network;
- a collaborative office suite;
- a shared calendar.
6. Strengthen team cohesion
Remote employees can feel lonely and isolated, which can lead to a loss of motivation and a sense of belonging. When managing a remote team, it is essential to do everything possible to maintain social ties and team cohesion. Because if you work from home, your employees cannot meet at the coffee machine to discuss things.
It is up to you, the manager, to foster social relations and maintain team spirit by organising virtual events (breakfast, lunch, coffee break or video aperitif), by launching personal discussions, fun challenges or quizzes in the chat room, and by planning face-to-face meetings several times a year to strengthen the feeling of belonging to the company.
7. Valuing good team performance
As human beings, we need recognition. At work, recognition plays an essential role in the well-being, commitment and motivation of employees. And this is even more true when employees are not working on the company premises.
As a manager, it is important that you regularly acknowledge the work of your remote teams. Thank your employees for their involvement, show them that you appreciate their work and congratulate them publicly whenever they achieve their goals.
There are several ways to show your appreciation to your employees:
- a note, an email or a thank you card,
- a bonus or a raise,
- a spotlight at a meeting,
- sending them a small gift,
8. Be available and responsive
Finally, your employees must know that they can count on you and contact you at any time, despite the distance. Instead of leaving your door open to indicate that you are available, you can reserve a time slot each day/week in your calendar to answer your employees’ questions individually.
Also, when a member of your team needs your help, be responsive and answer them immediately. If you can’t solve the problem right away, acknowledge the message and indicate when you can deal with it (be specific and keep your commitments).
The secret to managing a remote team is to trust your employees and adapt your management practices without falling into micro-management.