In 2020 all managers added ‘remote management experience’ to their CVs, whether they wanted to or not. Unless you manage an octogenarian lawn bowls team, the vaccine is unlikely to get your people back in one place any time soon.
Remote working is here to stay and so, therefore is remote management. Despite trying your best, there are bound to be areas in which you would like to improve next year and mistakes that can be learned from.
Here are our top tips for moving from ‘good’ to ‘great’ when it comes to managing teams remotely.
Stop the late night emails
It may help you to get your thoughts and actions into writing before you finally switch off for the day, but it can put pressure on your team, even if you make it clear that they don’t need to read, reply or action the email until the next morning. They may still read the email and their brains will start ticking – they are human after all.
If you really can’t resist having a late night email session, either save the messages as drafts and ping them over in the morning or use the ‘delay sending’ facility. It will nurture a healthy work life balance – and make you look like a chilled out boss who has better things to do in the evening.
Cut down your meetings
We are all zoomed out. The one good thing about meetings was that they got you away from your desk and there was a high probability of biscuits. Now it’s just the same desk, no biscuits and you always have to check that the space behind your desk is tidy.
To help your teams sanity and productivity, be firm with meetings and try to cut them down in number and duration. Some people feel like they must be present on every call they are invited to, even if it isn’t that relevant to them to show that they are working hard. This can in fact have the opposite effect. Make it clear that people can decline meetings if they don’t feel they can contribute or gain much from them.
Keep meetings short and to the point, and only allow time for a brief catch up at the beginning. Keep time to talk freely in one-to-one meetings so that your colleagues feel they can open up about issues or concerns.
Turn off your camera
Being on camera for hours on end and at every zoom meeting has been shown to feel a bit like ‘prey’ surrounded by lions. You are constantly under observation and also looking at your own reactions. You can still participate and turn your camera back on (or uncover the lens) when need to participate.
Reward output, not input
Some of your team members will be working much more than their contracted 38 or 40 hours a week because they want to prove that they work hard from home, or want to get more done. This sounds great, but may lead them to burn out or drop in productivity.
Embrace the benefits of remote working – time to walk the dog or pick the kids up from school – and space to catch up on work at times that suit the individual. Trust your team to work effectively and remind them that it the output that they achieve that you are monitoring, not the hours that their mouse is moving.
Above all, ask for honest feedback and nurture a culture where honesty is welcomed. If your team has suggestions of how they want to be managed, be all ears for them.
Have some great tips of your own? Please do let us know!
For more advice on remote management or HR issues speak to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.