Common mistakes when managing remote teams
In an increasingly technology dependent and interconnected world, the rise of the remote team is a business trend that is continuing to gain momentum. There’s lots of reasons why it makes business sense for you to spread the work required across multiple locations or time-zones, but the challenge is how to ensure that your remote team is working effectively.
In this article we take a look at some of the most common mistakes make by the managers of remote teams, and offer some hints and tips on how to learn from those mistakes so that your team exceeds everyone’s expectations.
It is easy to forget how often we communicate with each other and in the multitude of ways in which we communicate. If you are in the same office as the people you are working with, your forms of communication aren’t just limited to the conversations that you have or the emails that you send, you will also be giving non-verbal cues that enrich your communication. Just because you have a team member in a different office to you doesn’t mean that you communicate with them less, in fact, you need to communicate with them more. You need to think about how to ensure that you are communicating on a regular basis, both informally and formally, making sure that your remote team feels part of the business and feels connected with what you are trying to achieve.
Project management failures
You may not be working on something that you would classify as a project, and your remote team members may all be working on different things, but you need to bring the basic principles and frameworks of project management into the way that you organize your team and manage the work-flow. Use collaborative tools to avoid any version control issues, use CRM systems or a tool such as Dynamics AX Migration to ensure that everyone has access to the required information in real-time, set deadlines and deliverables and stick to them. If you have team members that aren’t particularly comfortable with a structured approach to workflow management and reporting, then perhaps they’re not the right for a remote team role.
Team management failures
A lot of people see being part of a remote team as an excuse to work flexible hours, to take a relaxed approach to the hours they keep and the work that they deliver. Being part of a remote team requires an enormous amount of self-discipline. If you have team members who aren’t working the hours agreed, or aren’t delivering the work that you require, then you have a performance issue that needs to be dealt with. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem and hope that it gets better. Unless you are providing strong leadership and are clear and consistent on the expectations of your team, then your performance will quickly deteriorate.
Managing a remote team of people may be one of the most challenging managerial tasks that you will face, but it can also be one of the most rewarding – and it will look great on your CV. The essential lesson is to remember that your team members are people who need to be able to communicate, who need to engage, and who need to feel as if the work that they are doing is contributing to something meaningful. Working out how to do that is what will take your team from good to great.