Learning how to manage remote employees is a new skillset that just about every employer needs to get familiar with. With all the fantastic ways we can communicate via the web, our teams are no longer bound by geographic location. Your marketing director could live in Dubai and your office assistant could live in Dublin.
Lets begin with an overview of goals you should have in mind when managing remote employees.
- Creating a system that shows an overview of the team's effort.
- Giving employees a balanced and equal share of work.
- Effectively managing due dates.
- Motivating employees, even when they're 3,000 miles away.
Synchronize your team members.
If you don't already have a task management system, start looking, like now. It will be difficult to manage your team if you don't know what they're doing. Give yourself a couple weeks if you're adopting a new system. It will be difficult to get everyone on board, but be diligent. Set the example for your remote workers by using your task management system to its fullest extent.
Give ownership to tasks.
Making your employees accountable will give them a sense of accomplishment as well as make their tasks ahead much more clear. Giving everyone updates about who's working on what will keep communication up and competition friendly.
Be a guiding light.
If you see a task or project going astray, correct it constructively as soon as possible. Spend more time on the phone with remote employees to keep them on-task and on schedule. Sometimes remote employees get behind without anyone noticing until it's too late.
Plan further ahead than anyone.
Always have a back-up plan, you never know when you may hit a snag or need to let one of your remote employees go. Firing a remote employee is even more difficult than one in-house because it's typically you that will be re-training "the new guy".
Let the software do the heavy lifting.
You don't need to micromanage tasks. Let your software tell you what upcoming milestones and deadlines are ahead. Day Planners are for real estate agents, not project managers.
- Always ask your team what their estimation is for a task. You may be surprised at how much time they think it will take.
- Hold constructive discussions to find out what hang ups your team may have.
- Build in extra time for unforeseen challenges.
- Daily check-ins may help as deadlines approach.
Keep The Good Feeling Going
- Acknowledge and appreciate important achievements individually and collaboratively.
- Create an open environment where your team members can speak their minds.
- Be overly available to them. An open communication policy is essential.
- If you have the ability to send your team gifts, send them one when they finish a project. Even something small like an Amazon gift certificate can really boost someone's spirits and keep them motivated.
- Bring the whole team together once a year. This will do wonders for building company culture.
- Hold project wrap-up meetings to glean insights into what worked, what didn't and what could be removed.
Learning how to manage remote employees may take a little time but you'll get the hang of it. Organization and communication are the most important skills to strive for when forming a remote team. Have you had success managing people remotely? Do you have any insights into what make remote teams tick? Please share them with us in the comments section.