Management of remote teams is different from an equivalent team located on-site. On top of physical separation and a higher reliance on written communication, a remote team potentially faces other new challenges, including differences in language, culture and time zone. A slightly different approach is required to manage remote teams effectively.
Fortunately, it’s possible to achieve high levels of performance from a remote team by implementing the following tips!
Respect is the foundation for trust. Remote teams and distributed employees need to be respected on par with on-site employees. While different working arrangements are likely for a remote team, these working arrangements should always convey parity of respect.
Showing respect will almost certainly mean managers need to acknowledge the different working requirements of a remote team, and accommodate these requirements to an appropriate extent.
Implement Project Management Disciplines
Remote teams perform many different tasks, from building an internal piece of software through to delivering projects on behalf of your clients. Whatever the specific task, larger projects need to be broken down into smaller pieces and managed diligently for a remote team. It’s quite easy for remote teams to get side-tracked on other issues and become less productive without strong project management disciples.
The good news is that online tools can encourage good project management practices, perhaps more so than ever before. It’s easy to allocate accountability, check progress and generate automated reports for a remote team by using online tools.
Achieve Clear Roles for Remote Team Members
Remote teams perform better when everyone’s role is clear. A remote team has less latitude for ambiguity than a team of on-site employees: they often miss out on contextual information and it can be harder to ‘read the play’. As a result, remote team members need to know where they fit and what is important. It’s well worth taking the the time to achieve clear roles for your remote team.
Remote teams generally need to over-communicate in their early stages until they find the right amount of communication. Communication should be precise and may need to make the most of a potentially limited window of availability. Teams should strive to communicate with purpose and use tools that suit the team’s communication needs. If possible, remote teams should see each other in person every now and again.
Communication is a huge topic for remote teams: we’ve written a separate article on the intricacies of communicating effectively in a remote team.
Report Progress and Offer Praise
Regular progress reports are helpful to align and drive the team performance from a remote team. Remote teams may not hold a nuanced understanding of the level of performance that is expected of them. As a result, managers will really start to make progress when they pair regular reports with clear standards to manage roles and assess performance.
It’s also important to praise your remote team. Catch them doing well and celebrate it, if possible. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to shape behavior.
Performance evaluation is just as important for your distributed team members as it is for on-site employees. Make sure you’ve set objectives to evaluate and that you’re planning ahead for the performance evaluation process. While you might not formally evaluate performance more than once or twice per year, you should be conducting frequent check-ins and should maintain an open line of communication to distributed employees.
Culture matters, in everything from sporting teams to tech startups. Managers need to consider culture in their remote teams. They may also need to ensure the right cultural match between a remote team and other staff in the company. Managers will need to invest time to build the right culture in their remote teams.
Unite and Align through Good Leadership
Good leadership is the glue that holds together many of the above elements. It’s very difficult to set a direction and then manage a remote team without quality leadership. While everyone has a role to play in leadership, sometimes leadership will need to be local and sometimes this will require a presence from HQ.
Thinking of Your Own Remote Team?
Remote teams are becoming an increasingly common way to break through talent shortages and deliver costs savings for companies from Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States or Europe. Remote teams can be simple to establish or manage: if you’re looking to set up your own remote team in Vietnam, Metasource can make the journey easier.