Proven strategies to manage big remote teams
The best managers of large teams are more like coaches and mentors than managers
It might not be a well-known fact that before heading into the COVID-19 pandemic, around a quarter of the U.S. workforce was already working from home—at least a part of their work was being done from home.
Therefore, it is possible to get some valuable tips from the managers of these remote teams who are already aware of the best practices.
There are some research-based steps these managers can follow without taking too much effort for improving the productivity and engagement of a large number of remote employees.
Challenges commonly found in remote work include:
- Lack of sufficient access to information
- Complete lack of face-to-face communication and supervision
- Distractions while working from home
- Social isolation
- Enhanced issues that already exist in silos
Tips for leading large remote teams
Although a large remote workforce can face several challenges, there are some inexpensive and fast solutions available as well, that can be used by the managers to simplify the transitions.
1. Have a schedule for daily check-ins
Although this may appear like overkill, it is key for the managers and large remote working teams.
Once using text messages, email, and phones sufficed but the managers that are successful in remote leadership are more inclined to the use of video conferencing for ensuring a face-to-face interaction that is lacking due to remote working scenario.
Since the internet is the main source of interaction, keeping the data and conversations safe is essential that’s why you have to use internet security tools to protect all the work information.
Apart from the straightforward daily check-ins, over-communication is necessary especially while distributing tasks, duties, and responsibilities to the team members for achieving the desired outcome.
Lack of proper communication can be a challenge even in the normal workplace however when these employees are working remotely and are possibly focused on different and newer tasks, communication is of paramount significance.
3. Use technology
Until this moment we are all being forced down the path of the digital transition that will take most companies months to adapt to.
Tools such as Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom that were already in use by many people daily are providing straightforward platforms for tackling the first two tips.
Many people will be a little uncomfortable while using these tools initially but after their adoption, this is a fantastic method for supporting the engagement strategies. You can perform several tasks such as unzip files with the use of technology.
4. Establish engagement rules
Rules of Engagement or ROE as they are called in the military, allows remote work to become more satisfying and efficient as managers are setting expectations for things such as means, frequency, and the right time for communication for their team.
For instance, you can opt to perform video conferencing daily for the check-in meetings while using the IM in case there is an emergency.
Set forth expectations for the best time of the day for this large team to reach their managers and vice versa. Also, ensure that the peers are sharing all the info as required.
5. Managing the expectations
It is always imperative to do this but this has become increasingly more significant due to the current environment.
As mentioned earlier, several companies and the large teams working with them had to pivot. This means many members of the staff are now assigned different tasks and this will affect the motivation and capability levels of the employees and therefore the outcome and performance.
Therefore, set clear expectations and ask for feedback for ensuring alignment. Do not assume that your remote team knows where they are expected to concentrate their energies.
6. Concentrate more on the outcome and not the activity
It is widely recognized to be a better practice for raising engagement from employees and empowering them. If you can clearly define the goals with desired results, you can allow the employees to prepare a plan of execution by themselves.
If they have the resources and training required for execution, you can expect some creativity and ownership. While working in a remote environment it is tough to micro-manage the employees in any event.
The best managers of large teams are more like coaches and mentors than managers. They are capable of understanding the difference between management and leadership together with the nuances that can be not-so-subtle. All these tips fall within the category of simple however not easy. All of them will need time, consistency, and attention. However, your team is going to thank you for using them and they will benefit.