Some managers won’t allow remote working because they fear the lack of control. Some managers force teams to start working together remotely and then teams face a sink or swim scenario. In this episode, we discuss what it takes to be a successful remote team manager and how to use remote working to your company’s advantage.
Managing remotely is different than managing in person. In modern leadership, you can lead the workforce and use remote working to your company’s advantage. Here is a list of things that successful managers do to lead their remote team.
Modern leadership in the virtual world
- TRUST THAT YOUR REMOTE TEAM WILL SUCCEED. Commit to strong, empathic, flexible leadership from a mindset of both trust and a belief that remote teams can succeed. We have to trust that our team are going to do their jobs. You have to figure out how to be present as a manager and see the needs and issues your teams are facing.
- FACILITATE YOUR TEAM’S SUCCESS. Create a deliberate plan for facilitating that success and set clear expectations were both you and your team know what success and failure look like on a remote team.
- CREATE A TEAM AGREEMENT. Engage the team and collectively crafting a team agreement with your team and set the details of the team’s expectations and the work culture.
- MAKE COMMUNICATION EASY. Arm your team members with the knowledge, tools, training, processes, and cohesion that they need to get their jobs done. Make communication easy: make sure everyone has a fast internet connection, a good headset, and a proper place where they can have online meetings.
- EXPERIMENT WITH SMALL REVERSIBLE STEPS. Set up regular feedback loops for the team with regular retrospectives, one-on-one sessions, 360-degree team feedback, and health checks.
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Welcome to the Collaboration Super Powers podcast my name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Hello everybody and welcome to episode one hundred and sixty nine, I get a lot of questions about managing remote teams and so todays episode I want to focus on modern leadership in the virtual world. Now sometimes managers won’t allow remote working because they fear the lack of control right. ‘How do I know what my people are doing if I can’t see them?’ but also sometimes managers force teams to start working together remotely and then the teams face this ‘sink or swim scenario.’ So if you are a manager who is considering either giving your teams more flexibility or if you are working together with offshore teams for one reason or another, this podcast episode is for you because I’m assuming that in both of those cases you are worried that people aren’t going to be productive and the work won’t get done. Managing remotely is deferment than managing in person and I want to give you some idea of what it means to lead in the modern day work force and then how you can use remote working to your company’s advantage because I think there are some very significant advantages that we shouldn’t be ignoring. Okay first of all there are great reasons to incorporate flexibility, for you managers out there who are fearing a little bit about having that lack of control it’s good to know that one of the biggest benefits that companies can offer is flexibility. So let me try to convince you that flexibility is something that you should invest in. In a recent flex job survey from two thousand and seventeen, it turns out that most people want to work a hybrid schedule, so they want some days in the office and some days at home. So a lot of times manager’s fears like ‘oh my people just want to just go on the road,’ but that’s not the case, most people want a hybrid schedule. Now let me just give you some idea of how important it is, in that same study a third of the people said they’d be willing to take a ten to twenty percent pay cut just to have more flexibility in their schedules. Two thirds of the people have left or considered leaving jobs that didn’t offer flexibility, so clearly flexibility is something that employees really value and if you are looking for a way to keep your existing employees and to make them happier overall, flexibility is a great strategy for that. Now if you’re still not a fan of offering flexibility I’d like to offer one more reason why it could be really beneficial for your company and that is; that whether or not you decide to offer it, you should have the processes in place to be able to work remotely in case something bad happens. For example a bad commute for example or inclement weather or a transportation strike, sick kids at home, the plumber who is going to come between nine AM and five PM, there’s all kinds of reasons that life give us that we can’t make it into the office and being able to work from anywhere really give your company an advantage, it decreases the vulnerability that you have. Okay but for the managers who are new to remote teams and you’ve just put maybe a couple of teams together that are working remotely, I understand why you do it. I mean the benefit is very clear, working with offshore teams can save a lot of money. A software developer in San Francisco costs significantly more than a developer in Vietnam and that’s clearly something that companies can’t ignore. Also the stories that I hear in my interview is that most companies need to increase the production of something, so they just simply need more people and they don’t exist in the area where they are living. So you have to find teams in another area and then essentially you are working remotely. For a team as a whole to succeed it needs information in leadership, it needs to be able to work together effectively, it helps to have a sense of connection and trust and the teams need the tools in which to do their jobs. I have categorized five things that a successful remote team manager needs to do, and the first one is to commit to a strong, empathic flexible leadership, from a mindset of both trust in the team members and a real belief that remote teams can succeed. So what I mean by that is we need to have a real belief that remote teams can succeed and start with the basis of trust. We are going to trust that people are going to do their jobs, I have a whole episode about building trust back in episode number eighty one but for those managers who fear lack of control, keep in mind that the number one reason that people want more flexibility in their schedule is because they want to increase their productivity and actually the thing that most remote workers struggle with is we have a hard time turning the work off. So there is a real discrepancy in what manages fear and with what’s really going on and for managers that are new to remote teams, if you are wanting to commit to strong, empathic, flexible leadership. What that really means for you is you need to figure out how to be present as a manager in those teams, you really need to get in and understand and see the needs and the issues that the teams are facing. So if they have a really bad internet connection you need to join those meetings and understand the kind of pain they are going through in their communication and then help them solve that and we are going to get into that in just a bit, but doing this really shows that the manager sees and understands the issues. The other thing that managers need to watch out for is the ‘us versus them’ mentality, especially if you are working with an offshore team because you are trying to get a lower cost. We tend to think of the lower priced countries as second class citizens and we quickly develop an ‘us versus them’ mentality and as managers we need to be extra conscious of that on teams because it’s not productive and it’s not kind and most importantly it’s not true. So the second thing on my list for a successful remote team manager is that we need to create a deliberate plan for facilitating success on our teams. So that means setting clear expectations, we need to know what success looks like and what failure looks like on a remote team. I do a whole episode about onboarding where I talk about how to set clear expectations, so that’s back in episode number one hundred and twelve and there is also one interview that I did with Jeremy Stanton and he and I talked a lot about what that looks like, how do you know what success and failure looks like and I interviewed Jeremy back in episode number ten, so one of the early ones but still one of my favorites. Okay the third thing for a successful remote team manager is to engage the team in collectively creating a team agreement together and that team agreement details the expectations of the team and the etiquette of the work culture. I talk a lot about team agreements in episode number forty two and a lot of other episodes to. The fourth thing on my list is to arm the team with the knowledge, tools, training, processes, and cohesion that they need to get their work done. So I know that sounds like a lot but really what it comes down to is making communication easy, making sure everybody has a great internet connection, a great headset, a proper place where they can have team meeting online, agreeing on how to work together which is back to the team agreement and facilitating team building. Making sure that the team gets together every once in a while face to face, setting up virtual lunches. Some other ways that we can facilitate team building are setting up regular feedback loops for the team, so that means one on one sessions to see how things are going, setting up regular retrospectives, hosting three hundred and sixty three feedback dinners, whatever it is that you use for feedback in your organization, just making sure that it’s happening on a very regular basis. That is really important for team bonding and especially on remote teams it’s good to clear the air, sometimes we don’t get a lot of opportunities. So getting together once in a while and just blowing of some steams is really important for a remote team. Now the other side of that is showing appreciation, now there are lots of ways that we can show appreciation on remote teams. For that I suggest you head to episode number fifty three, I talk about all kinds of perks for remote employees, but just to say here that saying thank you really does boost morale. And then the opposite is also true which is not saying thank you can actually decrease moral so this is an area where if we don’t do something, something negative can happen. I know that’s a lot of negative information all at once but I wanted to keep it short and jam packed but just to quickly summarize a successful remote team manage needs to: 1) Commit to strong, empathic, flexible leadership from a mindset of both trust and a belief that remote teams can succeed. 2) Create a deliberate plan for facilitating that success. 3) Engage the team and collectively crafting a team agreement. 4) Arm the team members with the knowledge, tools, training, processes and cohesion that they need to get their jobs done. 5) Experiment with small reversible steps. Now I know that sounds like a lot and it is but we are managers and doing this will increase the likelihood of success on our teams. If you’re looking for training let me give you a shameless promotion, try the work together anywhere workshop. It is offered in person, online or a hybrid version, though I highly recommend the online version. It’s really a lot of fun, we use a whole bunch of tools and try a bunch of things and have a bunch of discussions, highly interactive online experience. So I can show you what it’s really like to work online as if you’re in an office together. You can find more about that on the Collaboration Super Powers website and if you would like to hear more stories of remote teams doing great things or other tid bits of information then sign up on the Collaboration Super Powers newsletter. Every other week we send you an information jam packed newsletter on all kinds of topics around remote work. That’s collaborationsuperpowers.com/newsletter. A big thanks to our awesome podcast producer Nick [inaudible – 11:08], he’s the reason we sound so pro. You can hire him to make you a star at podcastmonster.com and another big thanks to our dazzling designer Alfred Boland, he is the reason we shine so bright, and you can hire him to make you look cool at thelondon.nl. Alright everybody until next time lets go out and be great managers and be powerful.