According to Business Insider, 54% of adults who never thought of working outside of their offices now want to work remotely, after the pandemic. Companies like Twitter and Meddy, have announced working from home as an option for all employees even after the pandemic ends. Big names such as Amazon, Facebook Microsoft, and Slack are committing to hiring permanent remote employees.
As Forbes puts it, one of the biggest challenges for remote teams is the uphill battle to build and maintain a sense of team cohesion and camaraderie. However, there are many other challenges to consider when leading and managing remote employees some of which include communication, isolation, lack of productivity, interruptions, technological issues, etc.
Here are some essential tips to battle the challenges efficiently and to make the most out of remote management:
1. Make sure the employees are well equipped
Whilst coaching employees for effective virtual communications is vital, it is even more crucial to know if the employee is well equipped to perform successfully. This varies from team to team, based on the nature of the work that the employees do. For example, for a call center employee, an internet device and a microphone are important, for a designer or UX analyst, a machine that does not lag is of value, and for most a clear video camera is needed. The needs are different, and the manager should be able to understand them without having the employee feeling uncomfortable or reporting an issue. If the tools needed cannot be provided for some time, then the manager or team lead should be able to decipher any shortcomings from the employee.
2. Have one on ones
Team video conferences, audio meetings, and chats are there to make sure that the entire team is on the same page, working for the same goal. However, the manager should schedule one on one with each employee to let the employee express emotions, feedback, and information without any problems. This helps the manager understand things from the employee’s perspective and reflect on issues that haven’t been voiced before.
3. Understand the employee
Look out for warning signs that might imply that the employee is in trouble or under some pressure which is not allowing him to exercise his full potential. Employees can be in distress without a reason as well, which is why the manager should communicate at all times, appreciate the efforts, and build a healthy relationship. Remember one employee can unknowingly shift the negative attitude or demotivation to other employees.
4. Trust your employees
Reinforce the organizational values and make the most out of the virtual setup. Managers cannot keep an eye on the employees all the time and the workflow isn’t transparent which is why sometimes they tend to get frustrated. Put faith in the employees to perform their best. Positive reinforcement works wonders as well. Like Gartner terms it, emphasize objectives over processes to create greater clarity for employees — and drive greater engagement levels. Make it clear for them and then leave it up to them to perform their very best. Focus on outputs and not the processes.
5. Differentiate between employees where needed
Nothing puts off a hardworking employee more than a manager tolerating a bad employee. Sure, give credits where needed and applaud efforts but do not treat employees who are clearly not performing well the same as those who are putting their all in. Communicate with the employees who’re behind and if after some time, the work does not show, be clear about your decision in front of the entire team.
Other vital tips:
· Increase creativity and innovation. Research suggests that employees are reluctant to think out of the box these days because of the unpredictable layoffs due to COVID-19. Encourage new ideas and virtual brainstorming sessions.
· Have a link up for anonymous feedback. Gartner also suggests using pulse surveys to ask specific questions or track output to collect data and find areas of recognition amongst the teams.
· If you’re one of those managers who feel difficulty in not knowing exactly what’s happening, keep track of the employee’s progress using applications such as Microsoft teams, Hubstaff, and Trello. For communicating, Slack, Asana, and Skype for Business are our top picks.
"The most successful managers are good listeners, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and over-communicating," says Justin Hale, a researcher at VitalSmarts, Provo, Utah.
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