As a versatile project manager and HR content writer, Michelle develops successful organizational development programs and shares insights with the world at large to facilitate healthy workplace cultures of diversity, inclusivity, and advancement. She has written about manager development, remote work, project & time management, employee well-being, and other relevant topics to help people excel in the modern workplace.
Pub: December 2 2020
Upd: May 17 2022
With remote work skyrocketing over the last few months, it's become increasingly likely that a manager will have a remote employee or team in the near future if they don’t already do so.
Remote team management is an entirely different ballgame than regular team management. Sure, the general challenges might be the same: fostering productive team collaboration, enhancing team engagement, and developing their team’s careers, but remote work limits the face to face engagement that might usually assuage those issues. Remote managers need to get creative when it comes to being effective. Thankfully, healthy organizational practices combined with technology can assist.
To overcome the change in team dynamics, managers must build trust with their teams. Trust is a critical factor in any strong manager-employee relationship, which becomes even more true when meetings are happening behind the screen. Here are some ways to build trust with your teams while becoming an effective remote manager.
- Communicate clearly and regularly
Remote work has many benefits - employees can work when and where they please, without the added stress of coming into the office by 9AM every morning. But with this flexibility, teams lose the availability to pop into their manager’s office or stop by a team member’s desk to chat about a project randomly. These impromptu conversations are an essential part of in-person interactions and feelings of productivity and connectivity.
This is why managers need to communicate clearly and regularly. Reach out to employees, both individually and in teams, to check-in and get updates. Keep in mind how and when you reach out. With your own projects to handle, it might be challenging to overcome that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. However, this might lead to you unintentionally withhold information that you would have typically shared.
It's essential to be transparent and intentional with your communication. Since you’re getting less face time with your team, this type of strategic communication can help them stay focused on goals while giving them the information they need to succeed. Keep them up to date on deadlines, company news, and project updates to ensure everyone is informed.
Setting communication norms is also a good rule of thumb. Whether that’s trying to keep video meetings for the mornings while keeping Slack open the rest of the day or stating that chats are for quick or urgent questions and emails for longer updates, setting these ground rules can make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows the best way to reach out to another person.
As a remote manager, it’s vital that make yourself available for questions that team members might have. Also, don’t just sit back and wait for them to ask - proactively reach out and see if you can support them in any of their projects.
Maintaining transparent and open communication channels is a strategic move that helps managers work more efficiently while keeping team members engaged.
- Set expectations.
Setting clear expectations is another key to being an effective remote manager. Team members need to understand the priorities for the week or month to allocate their brainpower usefully. By setting clear goals and priorities, you’re helping your team be more effective and minimizing room for confusion and inefficiencies.
It’s also important to make sure that employees are clear on their roles and responsibilities. It’s a little easier to have an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality in an in-person setting. But when working in a remote workforce, it's harder for employees to see outside of their swimlane. By ensuring that employees are crystal clear in what their responsibilities consist of.
One way to set expectations is by establishing OKRs with project milestones to stay on track of things. OKRs are transparent by definition, so they allow employees to get a big picture of what everyone is working on. They help build an open and transparent culture, in addition to enhanced communication techniques.
- Utilize Technology
With the sheer amount of technology that we have at our hands, remote teams can curate technology suites that work for their individual needs. Remote managers should utilize virtual meetings and chat services to stay up to date with their teams. Having the right tools in place means that you’re less likely to miss important deadlines and conversations.
Technology can also help teams stay on top of their performance and development. Remote managers should ensure that they remain current with check-ins and 1-on-1s to proactively address employee concerns and give feedback. Hirebook’s check-in and 1-on-1 software help managers never miss a meeting to prioritize team development.
- Show Empathy
Our last tip for remote managers is to demonstrate empathy when working with remote teams. It's important not to be serious 100% of the time while allowing room for light-heartedness and connection. This strengthens manager-employee relationships, which is a key factor of employee engagement, which is even more important when teams are remote.
After working from home for the last few months, it’s easy to experience burnout and lack of motivation. Remote teams might have conflicting priorities at home and at work. Managers need to be receptive to these situations, working with employees to be solution-oriented and giving guidance and support as required.
Another way to show empathy with employees is to praise your team. Giving positive and proactive feedback goes a long way towards making employees feel appreciated. Acknowledge individual and group wins when you see them as a way to build team morale.
Remember, a manager’s role is just as much to guide as it is to manage and delegate. By showing up and supporting your team and cultivating some fun, you’re building relationships that lead to stronger teamwork and results. This also helps build your coaching skills, which can be beneficial in developing your team while they’re working remotely.
As managers adjust to the new normal of remote work, they must make ongoing efforts to engage with their employees, contribute to projects, and build a foundation of trust. While it can be a drastically different setting, at the end of the day, employees need the same things wherever they are located. These recommendations will help your remote team build a solid foundation of performance, engagement, and trust.
Hirebook is a performance management tool that helps remote teams link their day-to-day actions to strategic organizational outcomes. Try Hirebook for free today to utilize check-ins, 1-on-1s, and OKRs to help your team achieve the next level of success.