Leading a remote team is both rewarding and exhausting. In contrast to the orthodox team structure, the digital era has ushered in a revolution in how organizations work. While previously, a manager and his/her team would be located in the same office building, now managers have teams spread over continents with different time zones and schedules. This adds more layers of complexity to management of teams in an effective manner.
“According to the data from Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of remote workers has increased by approximately quarter of a million in the past decade in the UK.”
But this does not mean that managing a high-performing remote team is impossible. Rather, the remote-team model is being very well used across the globe. Managers who do take care of a few aspects are able to manage their remote team efficiently, no matter where they are located. In this article, we have shed some light on how managers can manage the remote team members in a more refined way. Let’s get started:
Dividing work in sprints
One of the problems that many managers face is that they are so focused on the long-term goals or the end result that they ignore the smaller milestones that will help the team in completing the project. Just like the idiom goes, Rome was not built in a day¸ it rings true to this day. A team cannot deliver an entire project in a day or so, rather they need to work towards the goal every day to effectively reach it. Being the team manager, it becomes your responsibility to divide work in sprints.
Typically, a sprint has a well-defined frame of work, assigned days/weeks with a definite deadline. Multiple sprints add up to milestones, which later end up delivering the assigned project.
Communicating with the team
As a team manager, you need to build a good professional relationship with all of your team members. Just because they are located in a different continent or region, does not mean having only work meetings/chat with them. For your team to trust you and effectively communicate with you if they are facing any issues, you have to create a two-way communication channel for them. The better you know your team members, the more efficient you will be in dividing work among them and thereof getting optimal output.
If a team member is having a personal problem that is affecting their work, having a good relationship with them will help you in understanding their situation while motivating them to work hard. A good manager is ready to take any criticism or feedback from his/her team members. Arrange weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your team, brief them about the current progress of the project they are working on, encourage everyone to participate actively and share what they have done. Tell your team members to contact you via text/email etc. if they ever need to talk to you. When team members believe the manager cares about them, they show more productivity and loyalty with the organization.
Using tools like Jira, Zoho to assign tasks
A team manager does not only have to manage remote members of his/her team but also have regular meetings with the higher hierarchy and also deliver tasks assigned to him/her. Being bombarded with management, meetings and tasks – you might forget to keep tabs on your team or know the tasks that are assigned to everyone. This is where using digital tools can help you immensely in always staying at the top of your game.
You can use Zoho, Jira or any other tool that provides you with an overall update about the tasks assigned to team members, task they are currently working on, tasks that are in the pipeline, tasks that are dependent on others etc.
In an orthodox workplace setting, all the team members seated in the same place. As a team manager, you get to see for yourself how they are doing, what is their progress so far and which areas do they lag behind. When you are working with remote teams, the scenario changes completely. You can no longer see and differentiate between a hard-working employee and a lazy one. Henceforth, daily reporting is a great tool to get regular updates on your team members.
This will help you in identifying the best team members and the ones who are more prone to slack off. Daily reporting also encourages the members to work more efficiently as the understand that their work progress will be directly reviewed by you, thus increasing their productivity levels.
One of the problems that new team managers face is delegation. They are of the idea that if they do the work, they will be able to deliver a better-quality project. No matter how skilled and proficient you are, you can only deliver work to a human capacity. One individual cannot deliver the work of 5 or 10 people. Thereof, it is important to learn the art of delegating work.
Successful delegation starts when you give people tasks that are aligned with their skills, expertise and experience. For instance, delegating android mobile development task to an iOS developer is not a good idea. Identify the core skills of each of your team member and play it for your benefit. Instead of taking all of tasks yourself, allocate them justly among every team member and get the project delivered in time.
There is no doubt that working with remote team members is more complex than working with an in-house team but it has its benefits. You can have the best talented people from all over the world and deliver great products. Building a good relationship, having regular meeting, delegating tasks and getting daily reports will help you immensely in managing them and increasing the team’s overall productivity.
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