Managing a Remote Team: 5 Top Tips for doing it well
I always like to read about a company’s plans for expansion and job creation.
And it seems there is little to stop a juggernaut of a brand like Walmart. It has retained the No. 1 spot on the Fortune 500 list this year and toppled Royal Dutch Shell to grab the Global 500 top spot. http://fortune.com/global500/
The Wal-Mart company as a whole serves more than 100 million customers in 26 countries per week. Its net sales overseas alone, which accounts for more than 6,000 stores, climbed 4.6% to $140.9 billion from 2013.
And let’s not forget that the supermarket chain ASDA is one of the Wal-Mart empire’s super successful brands, with 150,000 staff across the UK.
But if your company isn’t on the scale of Wal-Mart, but nevertheless has staff based in different locations, how do you manage a remote team and manage it well?
Managing remotely creates many problems for a manager over and above those faced by those in charge of more traditional teams. When you’re not in regular physical contact with your team members, you have to work doubly hard to build trust, team spirit, relationships and a common focus.
Here are 5 Top Tips to help you avoid many of the pitfalls in managing a remote team and provide a solid basis from which to work:-
1. Be visible
It is vital to be seen by all team members on a regular basis. Even though that may mean spending more time than would be ideas travelling, scheduling time to meet people face to face is important.
The motto ‘out of sight out of mind’ couldn’t be truer when it comes to managing a remote team.
If your team members never get to see you in the flesh, they’ll build stronger bonds with colleagues that are physically around them and develop a natural allegiance to then rather than you.
2. Communicate regularly
Poor communication is one of the biggest problem areas in managing a remote team.
Even though you send out that group email don’t assume that it was received and understood by everyone.
Use a wide range of communication methods bearing in mind that the most convenient method (for you) is not necessarily the most effective method (for them).
It’s a good idea to set up regular touch points – even if there is little to say to avoid people feeling that they are being missed out.
3. Clarify goals
When people are separated geographically or functionally, they need to have a very clear reason for doing what you want them to do.
Taking time helping people to translate the bigger picture into personal goals and objectives that they feel committed to, is very important.
As a remote manager you’ll not have all of the information about all of the issues all of the time.
Recognised that your people on the ground have a unique perspective - often an isolated view – and can see one part of the issue or objective, clearly.
You cannot and will not have all the answers. Encourage feedback from the team and listen with an open mind to their ideas before you make a decision.
If you operate on a need-to-know basis, you’ll often be the last person to know when a problem arises; by then, it may be too late to do much about it.
5. Empower people
You simply cannot micromanage a remote team!
Be clear about what you want your people to do, any restrictions or parameters, give them the necessary information – and leave them to it.
It’s also important to delegate responsibility to a certain point so that you don’t become a bottleneck.
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