4 Must-Have Traits for Remote Managers
Finding employees with top-notch time management skills, excellent focus, and unwavering commitment to making a telecommuting arrangement succeed is vital to remote work. But to reap maximum benefit, companies need remote managers capable of adapting their modus operandi to the challenges of leading an off-site staff.
“Managers of remote employees need the same skill set as an onsite manager,” says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, LLC. “The execution of those skills just looks a little different when not working face-to-face with the people who report to you.”
Ready to take your leadership to the next level? Adjustments in these four areas can help remote managers guide teams to stellar performance:
1. Place a premium on communication.
All businesses need effective communication. Workers provided with clear guidelines, deadlines, and feedback know expectations and how to achieve them.
The best remote managers ensure that out of sight never means out of mind. They monitor progress and offer support by regularly checking in with telecommuters. Staff members know there isn’t such a thing as a “dumb” question because their manager would rather workers take the time to clarify or admit to needing assistance than end up with a problem down the line.
Good remote managers also realize the importance of conversation, not just instruction. As noted by Peter Friedes, a fellow co-founder of Managing People Better, LLC, “Master the art of asking and you will enrich your understanding of employees, the challenges they face, and their ideas for meeting those challenges. Workers will sense that you care about what they have to say, and that will lead to higher employee engagement and stronger business results.”
2. Remember to listen.
Body language and facial expressions help us interpret information. Though video conferencing can help, remote managers need to be especially adept at “listening between the lines.” Being able to sense a telecommuter’s frustration or confusion can go a long way toward righting the ship or keeping the worker engaged.
Steere notes that a good first step is to avoid multitasking during conversations. With electronics set aside, a manager can give the remote worker undivided attention.
3. Become more observant.
Walking through the office, managers often get a sense of morale, employee interaction, and other factors that influence engagement and productivity. Leaders of off-site teams need the same keen perception.
“Managers of remote workers sometimes have their hands ‘too far off the wheel’ to see performance problems early,” Steere says. “If an employee is not producing quality and timely deliverables, or if an employee is alienating coworkers through abrasive communication, the manager needs to confront the performance issue immediately—not after six months or a year of damage and co-worker complaints.”
Using a variety of communication tools can help remote managers observe employees as individuals and as a team. For instance, a conference call may offer insight into group dynamics, while a one-on-one chat may alert them to a personal problem.
4. Concentrate on goals.
Finally, all managers want results. Their own career success depends on being able to coordinate various people and factors to achieve desired outcomes.
But, as Steere notes, remote work cannot be measured by a punch clock. “Productivity and value are measured by results delivered. Period.”
Thus, remote managers must be big-picture thinkers. By putting forth clear criteria, including measurable deliverables, their charges know how to meet expectations. And instead of being annoying micromanagers, they become trusted leaders capable of bringing out the best.
Looking to hire remote workers? Post a remote job!
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By Beth Braccio Hering | September 6, 2017 | Categories: Remote Management