Build a strong globally distributed team by mitigating these pitfalls. By Priya Prakasan
Often remote teams are only as good as their leader’s ability to manage them. And it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you need to employee a slightly different set of managerial strategies to improve productivity and gain flexibility. To help you out we’ve listed five pitfalls that could undo all your hard work.
1. Tuning out conflicts
Communication is a key aspect of any relationship and it becomes all the more important when managing remote employees. Part of the leader’s job is to ensure there’s clear, direct, and open communication on a regular basis so as to avoid misunderstandings. However, when they do occur you would do well to be proactive so as to ensure the situation doesn’t worsen. Don’t expect or wait for the irritation to die down on it’s own. Even small grievances can fester and lead to a bigger blowout later. So take action immediately by talking to the people involved over a call, via teleconference, etc, instead of sending out an email or a text message.
2. Not using all the communication tools at your disposal
When managing remote members you need to keep the communication momentum going and close the gap that’s been created because of the distance. And it’s tempting to dash of emails. But they’re not the most effective tool for communicating with remote employees. They limit your involvement, and can be perceived as boring and a chore. Text-based messages eliminate the nonverbal cues typically associated with emotion. So pick up the phone or get on a video chat to build rapport with your employee. Also make use of team communication and collaboration softwares when explaining new tasks, projects, or to brainstorm once a month.
3. Not delivering clear details, instructions, and expectations
Building an effective remote team takes quite a bit of thought and planning. With a traditional office set up you can afford to be a little vague when describing a new project or task. The employee can figure it out on the job or is around you often enough to understand cues or ask for clarification. That’s not the case with a remote employee. You’re doing them a disservice and it can prove to be a big mistake. So sit down and create a detailed framework that clearly explains the work undertaken, project milestones, people’s roles, and deadlines for each member. List your expectations down as clearly as possible. The efficiency, productivity and success of your remote team will depend on this. Provide them with the best practices they need to perform well and achieve the set goals and deadlines.
4. Not providing constructive criticism
To promote further development or advancement, it is important to share regular feedback with your remote team members. Mention the good and bad. Provide specific, actionable criticism rather than commenting on their behaviour or moods. Steer away from providing subjective opinions and focus on objective points. Identify instances that reveal a cause for concern and help them understand why that is so. Guide them to on how to improve performance and help them achieve success.
5. Lack of involvement
At times it can be challenging for a remote employee to truly feel part of the team. Often remote workers feel excluded and given the step-brotherly treatment. This is where good communication and active participation on a daily basis come in. It’s a leader’s responsibility to cultivate a culture of inclusion and team bonding. Help remote workers feel more included by getting them more involved in the daily happenings in the office. Hold regular team conference calls to conduct team check-ins. Keep them looped in on developments, milestones achieved, and celebrations. Have one-on-one chats to discuss their concerns, and solicit their feedback so that they know that they are heard and understood.
Photograph: Jannoon028 – Freepik.com