We get asked a lot about what are the best ways to manage remote teams, especially if they are located in different time zones. One of our main clients has team members in The Philippines as well as Mexico.
The time difference can cause major problems in planning conference calls and other such contacts, especially in international settings.
If you manage teams that are not within meeting distance, how can you keep the morale and momentum going so that they and you produce the best possible results?
How To Manage Remote Teams Effectively
Without the face-to-face contact, trust is vulnerable to breakdown. Virtual and remote team members must know that their managers trust them to carry out their functions without micro-management, to required standards.
Make sure that you check in with your people but don’t feel the need to check up! Trust them. It will go a long way.
Plan real time meetings so everyone knows when they are expected to chip in with ideas and reports. If possible, plan a regular video or conference call for all team members, or at least those who need specific information. Then plan specific follow-up times to discuss the plans for each individual.
They must feel that distance is not a problem when it comes to dealing with their line manager.
You still need to maintain a sense of camaraderie, commitment and collaboration, even if team members rarely meet up in person. Have a specific forum area on your intranet or “chat” so people can contribute to discussions. Everyone needs a forum in which to share problems and acknowledge successes.
You can also banter on this too. Some of our best banter is on a WhatsApp group! A virtual cup of tea works wonders! Just schedule a video call to chat about anything.
If you’re looking for ways to liven up your remote meetings then our 25 Virtual Meeting Ice Breaker Ideas & Activities guide will provide you with some ideas.
It’s best to over communicate and scale back than it is to under communicate where everyone feels a little left out. Hold regular video meetings, one to ones and “chat” often via chat services and collaboration tools. If it becomes too frequent, scale back. It’s easy to achieve!
It’s very important to share successes with one another. When you’re not in close proximity this can get lost if you’re not careful. Keep some kind of log of all of the great work your team is doing and mention them during a virtual team meeting.
Your people will fee motivated about it all and that their accomplishments have not gone unnoticed.
Live video meetings and “chat” are givens. What I’m talking about here are things like leaving a positive voice-mail or recorded video for people when it’s their night-time or if they have logged off, so that when they wake up in the morning and download it, it gives them an immediate lift. Training should not be an issue.
Webinars and online training are very popular with remote teams. If you can overlap time zones and run LIVE webinar training then it can be just as effective as face to face development.
Here’s an interesting article on How Leaders Can Use Webinars To Train Their Staff.
Remember to keep the momentum of communication going, regularly ‘meeting up’ so they feel involved.
And remember that virtual rewards must be tailored to virtual employees who don’t have the extra job perks that people in the ‘home’ country might enjoy.
If you’re looking to improve your skills further we’ve got a number of different Online Management Training Options that can help. Please check out our ILM & CPD accredited Online Management Course or our FREE Online Management training video course. If there are a number of you we can design and create a Management Skills Webinar based around the topics that you need.
Sean McPheat Managing Director
Originally published: 8 April, 2020