Managing a remote team of people is one of those things that you don’t quite realize how difficult it is until you try and do it. If you are used to having everyone that you work with sitting close to you in the same office, to find yourself operating in a context when your team members are in different geographies or time zones can be a real challenge.
In this article we take a look at some of the tools and the techniques that you can use to help ensure that you are managing your remote team effectively and delivering the best results possible for your business.
Think about your communication style
When your team is working remotely, communication becomes of the utmost importance. However you can’t simply use the same style of communicating with a remote team as you would with people who are physically in the same location as you. A lot of your communication with your remote team will be written communication, via email or instant messaging. A lot of the visual cues that people normally get the benefit of when speaking face-to-face are lost when you are limited to written communication. Actively think about what it is that you need to communicate and the best way to do it. For daily updates and ad hoc queries, it’s likely that an instant messenger platform is appropriate and your style can be informal and to the point. If it is something a bit more complex and formal, then you may wish to use email to communicate with your team. If you are providing performance feedback or an important business update, then ideally this would be done face-to-face but video is a useful back-up if it is not physically possible to bring your team together.
When your team members are working remotely from each other, it is incredibly easy for them to feel isolated and unsupported. Finding tools that enable and encourage collaboration is critical. Use document platforms that enable your team to work simultaneously on the same document – this avoids any confusion about version control or having incorrect information. Look for non-work opportunities for your team to collaborate and connect with each other – perhaps they’re all interested in football, or you could all support a specific charity.
Prioritize knowledge sharing
Customer relationship management or CRM may seem like something that is only relevant for sales teams, but the same principles can be applied to any type of business or function. By ensuring that your team always has real-time access to the most up-to-date information and status reports, then you are amplifying the effectiveness of your people and ensuring that your clients or customers can have their needs met by the full resources of the team. Systems such as Dynamics AX are ideal for providing the real-time access to required information.
The key take-out from this article is that while you need to ensure that your team has the required tools and systems to work seamlessly together, nothing beats tried and tested management techniques – communicate clearly and consistently, understand your people and what motivates them, and engage with them authentically to ensure that everyone understands the contribution to the success of the team and the success of the business.