As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shift the way the modern workplace functions, teams have had to figure out how to work together from a distance. This is a challenge for everyone involved, including management.
The very real problem that managers are facing is this: how do you make sure that your teams are being productive, without being overbearing? After all, no one wants to have a dozen video calls on their schedule every day.
Luckily, there are ways you can manage a remote team without being overbearing. Here are some ideas to start implementing now.
Schedule virtual meetings with care.
One or two meetings a day is plenty for most members of your team. Make sure, when you schedule a virtual meeting, that:
- Everyone invited to the meeting needs to be there (there’s nothing worse than wasting time at a meeting that could have gone on without you!)
- The meeting has a scheduled end time that everyone is aware of
- The meeting has a clear agenda that will keep things moving
Establish routines and set expectations.
Working from home presents a variety of challenges for many people, and remote work isn’t always conducive to the typical 9-5 work day. Be as flexible as you can be to accommodate your team’s needs, but be sure that your days have some structure to them. Is there a time you expect everyone to be signed on by? Are there certain hours that everyone needs to keep open for phone calls? Is there a weekly team meeting that’s non-negotiable?
Whatever routines or schedules you establish, make sure your expectations are set clearly. Every person on your team needs to know what’s expected of them. If you don’t set upfront expectations clearly, you’ll find yourself needing to be a lot more overbearing as you have to repeatedly remind your teams of what is expected of them.
Use the tools.
Whatever communication or project management tools you use (e.g. Slack, Asana), make sure you’re utilizing them fully. Such tools often make it easy to send quick reminders, check in casually, or keep each other posted on a project’s status. If these systems are well-established and used frequently, touching base in this way will feel more natural than frequent emails or phone calls asking for updates. Your team will feel less micromanaged if there are systems in place to keep things running smoothly in a “hands-off” way.
Express gratitude and offer support.
A little gratitude can go a long way. This may be especially true when your team is working remotely. Chances are, remote working means they’re juggling a lot of different aspects of their lives, trying to adjust to a “new normal” without disrupting the team’s workflow or productivity. It’s okay to expect a lot from your team, but in order to avoid being overbearing, make sure you balance your demands with gratitude and support.
Recognize good performance (publicly, if possible). Genuinely thank your team members for a job well done. Reward them occasionally (have lunch sent to their houses, for example). Additionally, offer them support: help navigating new technology, resources to help them figure out how to work from home effectively, and again, whatever flexibility you can offer as they strive to work things out.
Both managers and team members want the remote working experience to be a good one. When managers figure out a way to manage their remote teams without being overbearing, it’s mutually beneficial: managers benefit as their teams get their work done effectively, and employees benefit from a supportive, encouraging environment.
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