New Managers and Remote Teams
Transitioning from the role of an individual contributor to a new manager is difficult enough. But when you add in the complication of managing a remote team or, more challenging yet, a culturally diverse team scattered across the globe, the leadership and management obstacles may seem overwhelming.
However, the principles of successful team management do not change; it just becomes ever more critical that you forge the right team bonds that keep everyone in the know, on track and pulling in the same direction.
As a new manager, you will be battling:
- The lack of face-to-face interactions that can result in team members feeling isolated and disengaged
- Different time zones that make connecting live very tough
- Miscommunication that can occur with cultural differences and poorly worded emails.
To help you overcome these difficulties, here are two tips for new and inexperienced supervisors on how to manage these remote team challenges successfully:
- Set crystal clear expectations
Each team member should know exactly what they are expected to do. They should have a clear and agreed-to job description that spells their goals, roles, responsibilities and success metrics in detail. Cover as much as you can…from how often you expect team members to check in to what constitutes success and what constitutes failure. Team members should clearly understand how their performance will be measured and their success metrics should be readily available and published for the entire team.Make sure, too, that the team understands not only their team goal but also the organization’s strategy and how their work specifically contributes to the overall picture. This “golden thread” is important to create higher levels of employee engagement, discretionary effort and retention. Nothing should be left in the dark where confusion can foster a lack of focus and wasted effort.
- Over- rather than under-communicate
Part of the challenge of managing remote teams is that questions or issues may not be addressed in a timely fashion. It is more difficult to reach across time zones and networks than it is to drop by someone’s work station for a quick discussion. And unspoken issues are apt to fester. But technology can come to the rescue. There are many tools available to help keep you in touch with each other. Choose the one that makes the most sense for your business and use it…often. Whether you have a quick question or want to collaborate on a complex issue, there are means to do this efficiently and effectively.And don’t forget to hold regular meetings. Connect by web cam so you get to know one another by sight and on a more personal basis. The objective is to build rapport, a sense of group purpose and a strategic rhythm. That is what team building is all about. Be creative in how you create the bonds that can link you together as a team. You can’t get together around Friday night pizza and beer, but you can give each member a turn talking about their special interests outside of work. This sharing will give you opportunities to find common interests and build the relationships that make you a caring team with a common goal.