The coronavirus pandemic has created a new reality for all of us. Most companies have started working remotely to keep their employees safe. What was a rare privilege for some, has become the everyday life of many.
The topic of organizing your own remote work is often discussed, but do you know how to effectively manage a remote team?
It won’t be anything new if I say that team communication is the most important thing. Nothing is better than a face-to-face meeting, but sometimes remote work is your only option.
Remote work makes communication more difficult. You must be mindful of these differences and the barriers that may stand in your way. Only then communication will be effective.
Suitable Type of Communication
We have many types of channels to communicate with the team. You must know the strength of each of them. Here’s a little hint.
4 most effective tools for managing a remote team:
E-mail – formal. A lot of emphasis on the message, so it should be consistent and specific – you can use it to confirm tasks and responsibilities. You can send information about projects or send reminders about upcoming meetings by an e-mail.
Chat – informal. Use for short messages or small talks. When you are working in the office, the kitchen is a place for a short chat while preparing coffee. Quick, brilliant conversations will allow for a moment of respite. Moreover, a chat is a perfect place to exchange an idea between multiple employees at once. Many chats offer the option of working on ideas and problems in no time.
Video calls – are the most important form of remote work. They allow you to organize meetings of the entire team. It is the closest form to a normal meeting. Remember, make sure that each participant has a video camera attached. It may not be a face-to-face meeting, but you can see your employees and their reactions – it will lead to a more effective meeting, because you don’t have to “guess” anything.
Phone calls – if you need to act quickly. Remember that when you call someone, you stop their work (because the call from the leader must be answered by his employees), so be specific to not distract employees from their tasks for too long.
Know your tool
The most important task ahead of you is choosing a tool for an online work. You have a really big choice:
The simplest ones, such as Google Docs, Asana or Slack. Slightly more difficult, enabling online brainstorming – Milanote, Miro.
Figma, Maze – these are programs that allow you to design together.
Choose the one that suits you best, and your daily duties will be much easier. Be sure that you know tools. Spend the evening “playing with it” -click and learn. It is the best way to check the functionality of a given program.
Be the person who will implement the team to work on a given tool – that’s why you should not be afraid of it.
Manage your team efficiently
Delegating tasks and responsibilities is sometimes the most difficult task, especially for novicemanagers. This is all the more challenging when it comes to an online work.
Here are some tips to keep your employees motivated and their efficiency not to be killed:
- Delegate a specific person to perform a given task – if you delegate a task to a group of people, there is a chance that no one will undertake it. This is the so-called diffusion of responsibility. For those who are far online, remember that it is important that you name one person for the assignment. Be specific.
- Explain the task – you can’t see the lost face of an employee who doesn’t know what’s going on, so tell them your expectations carefully. Ask employee to paraphrase the command to make sure he understands everything. This will save time for continuous inquiries and possible future corrections.
- Confirm if the person is able to cope with the task – asking for help in the virtual world can be difficult and it can be less effective. Take a step forward. If he has problems, ask if the person is able to cope with the task. If you come out with an offer to help, not only will you stop problems from growing, but also you will gain recognition in the eyes of the team.
- Appreciate – every leader knows the power of praise. This is nothing extraordinary, but it will keep your employees motivated to act.
Conduct effective meetings
We all know such meetings that could be deal by an e-mail. Don’t let your team waste their time. First of all, determine the need for a meeting.
If the meeting should take place, remember to:
- Collect questions in advance – prepare a list of questions a few days in advance. This will make a meeting more efficient when you know what topics your employees want to talk about.
- Involve people who cannot join the meeting. Ask them to write questions (see previous point). Maybe they have some interesting ideas about this topic. They also won’t feel excluded from the project when they see the recording of the meeting later.
- Change the time of meetings -if your employees are in different time zones, adjustthe time so that everyone can attend the meeting.
- Don’t be late – connect 5 minutes earlier. Regardless of whether you are running a meeting or taking part in it as a participant – do not waste time configuring the camera and microphone.
- Don’t be boring – a long monologue is not recommended. It is easy to get distracted in front of the laptop. Your employees can leave and do something else. Worse, they can feel disengaged without seeing any chance for interaction.
Supplement the conversation with charts, project plans or simple slides. Get employees involved.
Remember. If you’re sharing your screen with employees, keep your slides straight. Concentration is very important during the online meeting. If the slide is saturated with content – the employee can easily tune out.
During the meeting
First, make sure everyone can clearly see and hear the other participants. Remind participants to mutate / unmute themselves when they are not talking. Nobody likes background noises to distract you.
When everything is ready, welcome everyone, preferably by first name. If necessary, introduce all participants in the conversation. Present the agenda for the meeting, what topics will be covered and for what purpose the meeting is held.
Share screen only when necessary. This is a good practice, allowing you to focus on what is being discussed at the moment. However, only use it when needed. Let participants see yourself and each other.
Minimize presentation time, maximize discussion time. Encourage people to interact while meeting remotely. Thanks to this, you can make up for the lack of personal contact.
Avoid straying from the main topic of the meeting. During the meeting, you can organize a short survey to find out what your employees think about the topic. It will also be a good idea to record the entire meeting. This will allow you to recreate it and come back to look at things in a new way.
Online team management doesn’t have to be that scary. It is important that you follow these guidelines.As a reminder, I will summarize the most important steps:
1. Define the purpose and agenda of the meeting so that everyone feels that the meeting is moving forward and you do not deviate from the main topic of the talks.
2. Let everyone have their say. Don’t make a monologue. Don’t let anyone feel left out.
3. Take notes or ask someone to note them down – a meeting that cannot be returned is worthless. Also, the team gets more involved if the meeting is listed.
4. Send an e-mail summary of the meeting.
As you read this, you may be thinking “after all, many of these practices are no different than working with a team in an office”. Exactly! Managing a team remotely is no different. However, be aware of the challenges of remote management. Although the increase in teleworking is only gaining momentum, today technologies allow you to improve remote work -choosing them is only a matter of finding the best solution for you and your team.