Here is a list of things I feel is important to think about when managing people remotely. I’m sure this list is only the tip of the iceberg but it’s a starting place for me at least….
1. Instill individuals self-empowerment.
This will help them feel capable to do “work/tasks” without as much step-by-step verification.
2. Help them/teach them/show them to think for themselves.
More tools for the “worker” to make forward progress and not be in a constant state of pause waiting on others thoughts or ideas.
3. Encourage them to make a plan for their own work and ask for approval VS. Wait for a plan of work from someone else.
If the worker is stagnant they need to find/locate work and do it and report back of achievements.
4. IM and Email is ok, but pick up the phone and use video to make and keep the human connections
Getting to know the people you work with is important. Without this connection and relationship it’s hard to ask for help when needed. Also allows for people to “hear your voice” in an email.
5. Remember to talk about things that are not work related, similar things you might do if you worked in the same office space
Keeping in touch with others “real life” helps everyone keep a real life attitude, we all have good things and bad things in our world. It’s easy to forget it’s an actual person on the other end of that email message.
6. Encourage / push people to make relationships with team members via phone and video.
A manager can force a phone call with a worker but worker to worker phone calls need to be encouraged/required. Helps build team feelings and allows team members to vent with each other when needed.
7. Keep project lists with easy to read and follow status updates
Smooth updates of what everyone is doing is important, when everyone is remote, it’s VERY HARD to know what someone else on your team is doing and why, when you don’t have the casual conversations that exist in traditional offices.
8. Keep finding new ways to show how a workers “work/project/.task” made an impact to the business. Show the work is good and helps and how it fits within the company’s success.
People need to see their work is right, complete and needed. If someone does work and they don’t know why it’s harder for them to take it as serious as it should be.
9. Remember to ask about their physical environment and fix issues.
That annoying person or bad smell or bad lighting is not in my work area, but it’s likely effecting theirs and as a manager I need to fix it one way or another. Remember they sit in a place and might not be able to fix some issues themselves.
10. Remember you cannot see their face, as such it’s harder to know what they are really thinking, how sure they are, how sad they are or how happy they are. Remember these are people and they all are different and need help keeping on track and staying happy and productive.
You need to earn their trust, they need to feel comfortable telling you they are mad or need to blow off steam or take a break. It’s hard for someone when they don’t get the attention they need. Some people are a little less direct with their feelings and only show stress physically. If you are sending mixed messages, and cannot see confusion in their faces it’s a bad situation as you will be caught off guard.