managing those we cannot see

Frontline News   •   January, 2020

reading glasses on a book

We know what needs to be done, but how do we manage our team to ensure we get there? In the era of increased remote workers, so has the need for creating and maintaining a team virtually. Many factors such as generational differences, lack of the most effective way of communication (face to face), and trust for accountability are a few of the many hardships that come with a remote company. Although it has its draw backs, more companies are opting for this option due to no to little cost of overhead per employee and increase of technology. So how do we dig deeper to analyze how to manage a remote team to drive results in profitability and worker satisfaction?

Culture.

That’s it. That is how to manage a group you cannot see. Even more important than this is consistent but flexible culture. Its no secret that you will not be able to watch everyone on your remote team, but they are watching each other. Below are a few key factors that lead into creating and maintaining your company culture:

1. Goal Oriented

Everyone wants to know that what they are doing has a purpose. Is it imperative that your team is included on where you see them moving both short and long term. They should have a clear set of goals and expectations to work towards which includes sharing a full understanding of how you plan to reach them. If the team is not working for the goal, they are working against it. Ignoring this step can lead to lowered job satisfaction and your team feeling separated from the company and each other.

2. Standards

Every activity that you or your employees have should have a standard attached to it. There should be no gray areas of expectations. This begins with training. Yes, of course, initial new employee training, but also ongoing training. With your company communicating via email primarily, a quick workshop on email etiquette could drastically set your company apart. To aid with purpose and team effort, these standards should be set as a team and not by management after goals have been presented. If you have the opportunity to have everyone meet at least once a week, you should. Employees are much more eager to follow standards when they have crated them. It is more so up to you, the manager, to facilitate this conversation.

3. Accountability

Although it starts with a lot of time and work, every misstep needs to be acknowledged. This can and should be done by coworkers, mangers, and self alike. Although this sounds time consuming and to put it frankly, awkward, creating this standard of team accountability leads to team members excited about growth and drops the idea that being stagnant is accepted. Leading by example here can assist with showing the team that learning is a win win for all involved. This should never be done in a negative way but should lead to a learning opportunity. We learn by making mistakes, and we should always be learning. Some ways to go about this are “How did your choice in this situation lead to increasing our chances of meeting our goal?” or “ What held you back from completing this deliverable?”.  This ties back to having a solid foundation of goals and standards. Every learning opportunity should lean back into that foundation which inherently also confirms our next point, consistency.

4.Consistency / Buying In

As your you and your team set standards and goals, they have no weight if everyone on the team is not bought in. The quickest way to lose a team effort is to lack consistency. It has to be 100% of the team 100% of the time. Having your team bought in means they are on board with this. You will start to see over time that you will not have to work to manage as detailed after this happens. Employees will manage each other and themselves. They will be encouraged to say “ This was my fault, and this is what I learned from my mistake” or “ Thank you for calling that out, I did not realized I missed a deadline”  without ever being asked or reprimanded. Your team will be eager to reach the next goal and the next opportunity together. Encouraging themselves and each other will be second nature to them.

Creating the items above starts with you, their manager. They will need to see that you are bought in and have passion. Passion will lead to a bought in team every time when you have it and show it all the time. Creating culture takes a time and effort and can be a waste of both when management is not bought in with passion and consistency. It starts with you- What’s holding you back from making your team culture a priority? Culture first, and the rest will come.