How to Stop Managing Remote Teams Like a Traditional Office Team

How to Stop Managing Remote Teams Like a Traditional Office Team

How to Stop Managing Remote Teams Like a Traditional Office Team

Managing remote teams can be an incredibly rewarding experience once you learn to look at things a little differently

Want to hear a secret? Remote teams and traditional office teams are not the same.

You knew that already, though, right? So why are you managing remote teams like the teams you used to manage in brick and mortar companies? The work environments, challenges, and strengths are all different—so your management style needs to be adjusted as well.

How to Stop [Managing Remote Teams] Like a Traditional Office Team

5 ways to reframe how you’re managing remote teams

One helpful way to get your mindset on the virtual plane is to brainstorm common scenarios within an office environment, and then figure out how you would handle them differently when everything is done remotely. Here are a few situations to help you change the way you think:

1. Before: When you were feeling the crunch on a project and wanted to catch up with the team to review progress and deadlines, you’d schedule a meeting—or even just send out a quick e-mail telling everyone to meet in five minutes. You’d all pile into the conference room, talk about the tasks at hand, and then eventually everyone would find their way back to their desks (after a water or bathroom break).

After: You can still schedule meetings, but you’re just going to hold them in virtual conference rooms. Send out GoToMeeting invitations, and everyone on your team will gather at the agreed upon time. People share their screens when it’s their turn to show what they’re working on, and you use the video chat feature to encourage face-to-face conversations.

2. Before: When an employee wasn’t working out, or the company was going through a period of layoffs, you’d have to have those difficult conversations. You would schedule a meeting with them, and break the news gently face-to-face with an HR rep present.

After: Those tough discussions still need to happen, and you can’t hide behind your computer. When you’re managing remote teams, and you have to let an employee go, you need to be respectful and do it face-to-face, if possible, via video chat. Conference in your HR rep to make a group video chat, and speak to them the same way you would in an office.

3. Before: Casual chatting and random office celebrations were just part of your daily life. You’d pick up a cake on the way to work if one of your team members was celebrating a birthday, Friday pizza parties were the norm, and you loved making small talk with other employees while you brewed your afternoon tea in the kitchen.

After: Building relationships with your team is still incredibly important when you’re working remotely, but you just need to get a little creative. For example, once a month, send your employees some cash to order a small pizza. Then, get on a video chat together and have a virtual pizza party. For birthdays, collect messages from each team member, hand-write them in a card, and mail it to the birthday boy or girl (virtual cards are nice too, but don’t you love getting stuff in the mail?). For small talk, create a water cooler channel on Slack that only has one rule: no talking about work allowed.


Invest in your success as a virtual manager. Even the best virtual managers have had a little help along the way, so don’t put off professional development if you want to be the best at what you do. Our Virtual Manager Membership will give you access to all of our online courses and webinars, sessions with a virtual coach, and other helpful tools. Sign up now.


4. Before: You didn’t worry about whether or not employees were working—you could see them out of your office door every day from 8:30 to 5:30. And if they weren’t there, you knew they were taking a sick or vacation day.

After: You’re going to have to let go of the misconception that a warm body sitting in an office equals productivity. You can’t hover over your team and micromanage, but you can set expectations, goals, and firm deadlines, so employees know what is expected of them. No, you can’t always tell when an employee is doing work, but if they’re churning out high-quality deliverables on time, what does it matter?

5. Before: When you had more work than your team could keep up with, you knew it was time to hire a new employee. Hiring would often take a while, as it could be tough to find the right local person, but it eventually worked out fine.

After: If you’re in the market for a new hire, you’re going to be amazed by all of the qualified applicants you’re going to encounter by being able to hire outside of your area. As a remote team manager, you get to choose from top talent around the world. Just remember that you’re not just looking for the most qualified person on paper—you want someone who will be able to handle working remotely as well. Look for motivated self-starters that have either worked in a virtual team before or exhibit entrepreneurial promise.

By thinking in advance and coming up with solutions to common remote work challenges, you’ll put yourself in a better position to lead your team to success. You’ll also find that it was silly to worry about managing a remote team—it’s not harder than being an in-office manager, it’s just different.

What was the biggest change you had to make to your managerial style when you moved from a brick and mortar office to a virtual workplace?


Invest in your success as a virtual manager. Even the best virtual managers have had a little help along the way, so don’t put off professional development if you want to be the best at what you do. Our Virtual Manager Membership will give you access to all of our online courses and webinars, sessions with a virtual coach, and other helpful tools. Sign up now.


 

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