Being the leader of a team, regardless of context, always comes with a particular set of challenges. It is on you to manage different personalities and egos successfully for the good of the group. All of the little issues that come up dealing with a standard project can be exacerbated when everyone is working remotely.
There are also some very unique challenges that will present themselves that you need to be prepared for. Leading a project management team remotely opens up a lot of different avenues towards success. Still, you must be on point with your leadership style and be ready to handle those unique challenges.
Whether you have individual members that are not engaged enough, technical problems, or even mental health issues to deal with, it is your job to do whatever you can to keep your team productive.
No team, or leader, is going to be perfect, but there are steps you can take to help make things easier for everyone. The world is getting a lot smaller because of technology, and remote working is becoming closer to the norm.
As a team leader, you must stay prepared and flexible, or you may find yourself cleaning up messes instead of getting the job done.
Regular Communication is Essential
This particular step cannot be stressed enough; keep your team members talking and communicating on a daily basis.
When people are working remotely, it can very easily lead to them feeling disconnected from the company or workforce in general.
Having employees and team members feel this way is much easier to notice when you see them every day; being behind a screen makes things much different.
It is much easier for the average team member to stray off-track when the accountability associated with their actions doesn’t have a human factor.
Communicating on a regular basis is going to keep your team members aware of the fact that they are part of a team, a community, a social group.
Your team members need to be reminded that they are still part of a bigger thing even though they may be thousands of miles away from it.
A few ways to keep open communication are:
• Scheduled group chats
• Video calls
• Mandatory daily check-ins
• Group incentives
• Social media
These are just a few tricks you can use to keep your team members engaged and socially active. The key is to keep your members talking, not only to keep your work on track but to keep the feeling of isolation from creeping in.
Goals and Objectives Must Have Clear Rewards
Incentives are what drives the human brain at its most basic level. You are hungry, so you must find something to eat. Use this basic premise to your advantage when devising your work schedule for each team member and have the proper incentives available to keep them staying hungry.
Having clear goals and objectives that lead to your team members being rewarded is going to make them work harder and also feel like their hard work is being appreciated.
Not every team member is going react the same way to this type of goal and reward system, so it is up to you, as a leader, to know your individual members well enough and understand what motivates them.
This goes hand in hand with having excellent communication, as you need to take all the information you can from your interactions with each team member.
It is not an easy job to keep your remote team members motivated and on-track, but it is your job, and it is up to you to put the work in and learn what you can about them.
Opt-out of tracking time
While managing a geographically distributed team, you’ll most probably not have a very clear picture of when they started working and at what time they’ve finished work.
It’s even safe to argue that this isn’t really a bad thing. On the contrary, this enables you to focus on what matters most — performance.
Whether a developer started work at noon or 6 AM, it doesn’t really matter as long as they’ve executed their tasks and delivered them on time.
More importantly, imagine the amount of stress you’re subjecting yourself to if you’re planning to keep tabs on every member of your remote team.
While there is plenty of software that will take regular screenshots of a person’s screen while they’re tracking time — this is profoundly stressful for the worker and does not provide for a trustful work environment. On the contrary, it feels intrusive and almost Orwellian.
Work with the Right People
It’s important to underline that before you look into how to better manage a remote team, you need to make sure that your team comprises the right people.
Make sure that the team you’ve assembled has the right level of expertise needed to deliver the project in the best manner.
You need a good screening process in place in order to ensure that the person you’re about to invite to the team is sufficiently versed in their domain.
There are little things that slow down a project more than an incompetent specialist or their departure from the team. Assembling the right team will allow you to invest them with trust.
Avoid Micromanagement at All Costs
Another reason to take the right amount of time to make sure that a worker is a good fit for your project is to be sure that they don’t need to be micromanaged.
Now, there are few cases where micromanagement is necessary, but even then, this practice is profoundly detrimental to the specialist’s self-esteem.
Managing the smaller details of the team you manage seems like the right thing to do. Not knowing what a person’s precise work hours are can be relatively stressful, and a knee-jerk reaction would be to continually ask them about it.
However, many questions that we may think are innocent can have a corrosive effect on your relationship with your teammate. Here are a few examples:
• What task are you working on right now?
• Please provide me with a daily log of your work;
• Are you totally sure that you can handle this?
By micromanaging your team, you risk:
• Decreasing your team’s productivity and trust for you;
• Having an adverse effect on their creativity and vocation to think out of the box;
• Have them work less than they otherwise would;
Managing a remote team is by no means easy. Most of the time, it’s stressful and challenging. But it’s safe to say that we often make it worse for ourselves.
Ensure that there is a healthy amount of communication between you and the team. Make sure that your team is appropriately rewarded. Learn to trust your team at all times, and make sure that your team consists of great specialists.