WorkShift, a future of work blog by Stadium

5 Tips on Managing A Remote Team

As a remote team manager, how does one navigate the abyss of different time zones, different
roles, and different schedules? Management does not always come easy or naturally, and it’s a
lot tougher when your team is fully remote. It’s important that an organization invests in its
leadership, however, as leadership is the foundation of any good organization. Employees look
to managers for guidance and thus it’s important they are led with proper care.
Here are some tips for managing a remote team:

1. Determine the right platform and frequency for tracking
Whether it’s a casual Google doc to track agenda meeting notes or a platform like 15five
or Monday, it’s important to track meeting notes and to-dos. Creating actionable tasks
will help employees navigate what to do next and what’s clearly expected of them.
Next, decide how you’ll measure performance or stay aware of project updates. Whether
you lean on a project management tool like Monday or ClickUp, you should ensure
communication across not only your team but other teams your team may interact with.
But, when does checking in tread into overmanagement territory? Gartner defines
micromanagement as “a pattern of manager behavior marked by excessive supervision
and control of employees’ work and processes, as well as a limited delegation of tasks or
decisions to staff.”

There’s a way to implement tracking without micromanagement, by taking into
consideration the frequency of tracking. Rather than zoom in on the nitty-gritty of every
day, it may be best to do weekly, biweekly, or monthly check-ins to give employees
ample time to finish their tasks. Good management is about creating a cadence that
works for you and your employees. In fact, in a work engagement study by Gallup, “Work
units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by
10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity.” That means it’s
important to engage employees so they aren’t left in the dark or feel unvalued.

2. Check in emotionally too
A good manager isn’t just invested in their employees’ performance, but their career
goals and mental well-being as well. Ensure you’re taking time to get to know employees
beyond work. As Mindy Abodeely from Right Networks asserts, “ Most of the time when
an employee who normally performs well starts to slip, there is an explanation. Being
able to share their performance with them and ask what may be causing the changes
allows the employee to give us insight. We may learn that a new system is giving them
challenges or perhaps they have been up late with a sick child. Whatever the reason
may be, having an awareness of an employee’s performance gives us a chance to
coach them up before they struggle so much that they can’t get back on track easily.”

Discussing your employees’ career goals is not only a good conversation starter, but a
way you can lead them to success. Are they doing tasks they enjoy? Is there a project
you could assign them that could help steer them closer to what they want to achieve
and do?

It’s not until an employee’s worries are brought to light that you can find a solution for it.
For example, if you find that they’re struggling with a project, think of possible solutions.
Is it possible to schedule extra training time with them? Is there another employee on
your team who can help? Is this a task that should be delegated to someone else? Is
there any room to extend the deadline? Managing a remote team is all about
human-centered and tailored problem-solving.

3. Account for different time zones and any cultural differences
If your team is distributed, there will be different time zones to account for. That’s where
the power of asynchronous communication comes in. Be respectful of your employees’
time zone differences and try to schedule meetings during times that would work best for
Another important consideration is to account for any cultural differences. Some
employees celebrate region-specific or religious holidays, and it’s important to take this
into account when looking at workflow. This consideration will go a lot further than you
think–it’s the difference between an environment where an employee feels like an
outsider and one where an employee feels truly part of the team.

4. Encourage open communication
Have a space where employees feel they can reach out to you in the middle of the week,
even before your meeting. Doing so ensures fluid communication, so you can address
any problems that may come up. This can be done in any way from asking for a Loom
during the middle of the week to leaving helpful feedback mid-week on their project for
guidance. As Mindy Abodeely from Right Networks encourages, “While you may not
have a physical door to leave open, making it clear that your team can reach out to you
whenever they need to goes a long way. A remote manager who has an open “door”
policy is much like the manager in office who keeps their office door open the majority of
the time with inviting chairs and a warm welcome whenever someone drops in…When
met with, “Can I ask you a question?”, responding with, “Of course! How can I help?” will
make an employee feel like they are not a nuisance when reaching out to you. They will
know that whether they need to chat about a concern they have with their work, a
personal matter, or a conflict with a peer, you will be there and ready to listen.”

5. Advocate for your team
Look at your team holistically and ascertain if there are any processes that could be
improved. Are there certain tasks that your team as a whole seems to struggle with? Is it
possible a certain product or app could optimize or even automate that task?

Don’t forget to assess the health of your team, too. Is there effective communication
between team members? Are processes working or are things getting lost in translation?
This will help get everyone to stay aligned. You may even want to opt for a monthly team
health check to assess things.

Put simply, employee advocacy and employee engagement are paramount to managing
a remote team. So long as you are constantly iterating and being receptive to feedback,
your employees will feel welcomed.

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