The way you manage your remote team will determine how successful it will be. In several ways, it’s not too different from managing a regular team. A lot of the same group dynamics translate from the physical world to the virtual space.
But there are some critical aspects of management that we’ve taken for granted in local teams. Those aren’t so natural to pull off in a remote environment. So it’s worth paying attention and working to strengthen them.
1 – Be Clear In Your Communication
What’s the number one mistake shared by new remote workers and managers alike? No, it’s not showing up without pants. That’s something that should be encouraged (outside of Skype calls).
The main mistake is: people imagine they need to communicate using as few words as possible. They assume the person on the other end of the line will use their experience and intelligence to fill in the gaps.
Consider the difference between leaving this note on Trello:
“@frank check this out please.“
Vs. what happens when you type it in like this:
“@frank, @joanna said in a previous comment that there is a bug in the analytics code for this test page. @john noted that the description metadata lacks SEO optimisation. Please replace the former a rewrite the latter. Ping John for help if necessary.“
In the first example, you’ve placed the burden on the employee to check all the backlog in the task. Then they need to figure out with who to follow up.
In the second example, you were clear in setting your expectations. You’ve tagged the other parties so they know that a colleague might need to follow up with them. And you gave the employee all the info he needs to do a good job.
Remember, communication over text moves worse than over voice. Communication over voice carries worse than over video.
And if it’s vital? Say/write it two times. Don’t be afraid to over communicate, that’s what you need to do to be successful. If your team uses two communication channels (I.e., Slack + email), then send your message through both. This one of our main tips for onboarding remote employees.
2 – Use Video As Much As Possible
Following up from the previous point, make sure to use vídeo as much as possible when communicating. It will feel like a chore at first. No doubt about it. But there is too much that you miss when using written or spoken means of communication.
You lose eye contact. And you miss body language. It’s almost impossible to get a good read on how a person is feeling through text. Through voice, it gets better, but it’s not foolproof.
A video will let you get to know your employees better. It will help you form a much closer relationship. Knowing how your people feel and being close to them will be critical in keeping them productive.