How you manage your team varies greatly depending on the size of your company and the location of your teammates, as well as, your own personal management style. When all or part of your team is remote, there are natural adjustments you will make to the more standard in-house management approach. Your first instinct may be to try and tighten the reins to compensate for the lack of person-to-person contact with your team, but we find that it's the opposite that works best long term.
When managing a distributed team, take these two steps to adapt your management style and ensure a successful working relationship with your team:
1. Have confidence in your teammates
Working with remote employees requires trust and confidence that they will do their jobs on time and on task. Successful partially or fully distributed companies swap micromanagement and the “overseer mentality” for a workplace that manages performance and results, not tasks.Developing this management style begins by setting clear expectations with your teammates from the start. When doing so, assign specific tasks and explain in detail what you are looking for, with examples if needed. Set deadlines and then keep the lines of communication open to support questions that may come up along the way.As a manager, it is important to encourage your team and let them know you are confident in their abilities. This can be as simple as when you assign them a higher level task, you let them know that you are doing so because you trust them. And, when you reach notable milestones, don’t forget to provide feedback and reward your team for a job well done!
2. Champion the right systems
Good communication and a sense of unity among remote employees is critical as is having the right systems in place to facilitate it. Adopting or creating the appropriate processes for your business requires some up front thinking and action on your part but will serve your business well in the long run. Well implemented systems help create ease for onboarding, influence decision-making, resolve conflict, and encourage creativity.If the way your team currently works isn’t conducive to remote work, an important first step is taking a good look at your systems. Finding new ways to do things that are easily transferable to remote work will help you expand your operations.Once your processes are in place, it is up to you to be the champion for your team and to really push them to use these systems and processes. This is a true mindset shift, not just a task, and it’s important for everyone on your team to be on the same page. Team performance depends on it.Distributed teams require different leadership than traditional in-office teams. But with a few shifts in management mentality, you will be able to leverage all the benefits of global workers — top notch talent, cost savings, and scalability. You will also find these shifts in your management approach will help you become an overall more well rounded manager, for not just remote teams but in-house teams as well.