Being a remote manager takes certain skills, and it’s likely you may make a few mistakes along the way. However, don’t despair! Whether you manage one employee, a team, or a whole company, we’re going over five remote management mistakes to avoid and what to do instead.
Here are five big remote management mistakes to avoid:
1. Assuming the team is hitting deadlines.
One of the most important things to do as a remote manager is to hire trustworthy people who have the skills to work remotely. But even still, it’s vital to keep track of projects and deadlines. Remote work environments are unique in that you can’t actually see your team working. Employees may be less likely to ask you a question when they don’t easily run into you in the break room.
Trust your workers, but also check milestones and ensure deadlines are being met. Having this information can help with productivity and learning where any weak spots are. It can help you as a manager know who may need extra guidance and who may need more to work on. Check in on projects as needed and solicit feedback from employees.
2. Not using the right productivity and communication tools.
Going along with the previous point, using the right productivity and communication tools is essential to proper remote management. If you’re only using Excel and email to track projects and communicate with employees, consider upping the game. Several programs and apps exist that can be used by the whole team and provide synchronous updating.
Check out Asana, Trello, Podio, and Toggl for project management, and Slack, Skype, and HipChat for communication.
3. Too little communication…or too much.
Unfortunately, “out of sight, out of mind” can easily apply to a remote work situation. Avoid this remote management mistake by making it a priority to reach out to your team—and not just for work-related talk. Proactive communication is a hallmark skill required by remote workers and managers to succeed.
When you’re in a remote workplace, it can be difficult to figure out the right amount of communication. You don’t want employees to feel forgotten, but you also don’t want to be a micromanager. Consider, however, the types of formal and informal talk that happens in a brick-and-mortar office and compare it to your remote team. It’s likely that you may need to be proactive in facilitating more communication. Don’t let days or a week go by without some sort of check-in or chitchat. On the flip side, don’t overwhelm your employees with constant requests for feedback or information. Pace yourself and make the most of any interactions you do have.
4. Not knowing what motivates your employees.
Knowing what motivates and drives your employees can be the difference between a happy and unhappy worker. Some employees are highly driven by verbal praise and affirmation. They may like an email or a shoutout in a team meeting thanking them for their hard work on a project. Others may feel embarrassed by this type of display. Advancement and growth can be another motivation. Some employees may desire to be given more responsibility at work or to move up the corporate ladder.
Figuring out your team’s motivations can be as simple as asking. Ask how they prefer to be praised and what they enjoy as a “reward” for any hard work. Having this information can make you a better remote manager and keep your team satisfied and happy.
5. Not being or seeming available.
Your remote team members can’t pop their head in your office to see if you’re on the phone or available to talk with them. Just like you don’t know what employees are doing each second of the day, your team members likely don’t know your detailed day-to-day tasks either. You have to make it a point to be available in a remote work environment.
This can be done by using tips previously mentioned, such as using communication tools that easily show your availability. Use a tool where you can set an icon or type a message to show that you’re out of the office, in a meeting, or available to talk. You can also use a shared calendar where you document all your meetings and anytime you’re out of the office so that team members can quickly see your schedule. Send an email if you’re going to be out of the office. Even if you have a flexible schedule, aim to work the same hours every day, and communicate those hours to your team. They’ll feel more confident in knowing that you’re in the office and available to assist them if needed.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com