Leading and managing a remote team is quite different from the face-to-face management style in which many professionals are accustomed. To develop leaders on a remote team, there are several aspects of successful remote working that need to be taken into account. From being proactive and open with communication to learning to focus on results over the hours worked, developing remote managers and leaders takes a different approach. Check out the below critical areas that need to be addressed when developing leaders on a remote team.
Teams need to stay connected.
Leaders on a remote team know the importance of keeping teams connected and working together. A great method for making virtual teams stronger is by participating in remote team building activities or setting up regular meetings. Providing a platform for remote workers to connect on a personal and professional level will help to build a stronger, more cohesive team.
Managers need to be proactive about sharing information.
When working in an office, it’s easy to get a team together to share important information. When you work remotely, and likely with a flexible schedule, getting together takes a bit more effort. Leaders on a remote team know the importance of sharing information when it becomes available. No matter the method of sharing, the information helps remote teams feel connected to the business and keeps them loyal and productive to the mission.
Communication channels need to be kept open and available.
Remote workers can’t walk to their manager’s office for a quick chat when something comes up. In the absence of a brick-and-mortar office, remote team leaders need to keep their lines of communication open. Provide your teams with different platforms to get ahold of you: chat, email, phone, virtual office software, etc. Another practical consideration is setting specific work hours and letting your team know you will be available at those times, no matter how they want to communicate with you.
Managers need to take the initiative to keep in contact with their remote teams.
Out of sight, out of mind can be an easy mindset to fall into when working in a remote environment. Successful remote leaders, however, don’t allow this to happen and take the initiative to reach out and talk to their team members. In addition to making contact with their remote teams on a regular basis, leaders take the time and put in the effort to keep their teams in contact with each other.
Focus shifts to outcomes rather than the number of hours worked.
For decades, seeing a person sitting at a desk was enough for a manager to assume her teams were working. In a remote environment, that simply isn’t possible (or effective in any situation!). Leaders on a remote team are aware of this and monitor progress and productivity through outcomes and results rather than hours worked.
Candidates need to be evaluated specifically for the remote role.
Before hiring a candidate for a remote team——and hoping to develop them into a leader— it’s essential to find out if the person’s personality is conducive to a remote work situation. Not everyone is cut out for remote work, so make sure to screen for candidates suited for a virtual environment. If a person is successful in a remote environment, there’s a better chance of him being able to successfully lead a remote team.
Informal virtual meet-ups are essential to building relationships.
All good leaders know that their employees and staffers sometimes need a break away from work with their coworkers. In a virtual environment, however, you can’t simply hit up the local watering hole after work. Create opportunities for your team to get to know each other in an informal and virtual environment, such as a scheduled trivia night or karaoke hour. This is also a great way for managers and future leaders to connect with their teams.
To develop leaders on a remote team, you have to evaluate their success as remote workers alongside their success in leadership and management. When you’ve found a good marriage between the two in one person, you’ll be able to develop a leader that understands building and leading a team in a virtual world.