How to lead and manage remotely: Adjusting to the COVID-19

4 mn read

Every manager is faced with remote working and managing remote teams. While this format may not work for everyone, sometimes it is simply unavoidable. Just like nowadays, due to the pandemic. We must adjust, that is inevitable. If you have been entrusted with leading remote employees, use principles that will help build strong connections within your team, making it effective. 

Individual approach to each employee

Assess the maturity of your remote team. At the same time, there can be experienced professionals with high self-motivation who understand the goals and objectives of the business, and ordinary employees with whom it is important to work more attentively. Rank team members in terms of their experience, level of motivation, and responsibility to find the balance of discipline and self-control that each of them needs.


Example:

The manager does not always have the opportunity to create a team from scratch and select the employees who are suitable for the current tasks. And working with remote teams is no exception in this case. Therefore, it is extremely important to soberly assess which of the employees needs to be given additional attention, and for whom it can become a factor of demotivation, an element of micromanagement. Assessing team members and analyzing the effectiveness of their work at first will help not only to understand the approach to each of them but also to schedule personal meetings as a priority.

Respect the cultural characteristics of the region

Each company has a corporate culture that sets a certain framework for communication and approaches to work. However, in addition to this, there is the so-called national cultural code, which does not change for decades, if at all. And the smartest way out is to turn the national diversity of the remote team in favor of business. Direct the right people to the right tasks and combine opposing perspectives.

Example:

Misunderstandings caused by cultural differences often become episodes of comedy. And in a multinational country, they can very quickly turn into real-life events.

Working with employees across the world, you can notice that, for some employees, solving problems often occurs through confidential discussions and informal agreements. For them, countless progress trackers are cumbersome and ineffective. For other, certain characteristics of a manager as a person – charisma, leadership qualities, and others – may be of fundamental importance.

Knowledge of these specifics is a necessary element in working with remote teams. This allows not only to more competently distribute tasks in the team but also to achieve better results, for example, in negotiations with partners.

Communication

Numerous studies confirm that our words and voice are responsible for only half of the transmission of a message. The other half are non-verbal signals: posture, position relative to the interlocutor, facial expression, look. Obviously, in this regard, remote communication is defective, and more effort is needed to make it effective.

Run a separate internal mailing list or create a social media group for your team. Intranet is very important for communication. Discuss not only corporate achievements but also personal news of team members, share photos, videos, congratulate them on holidays. This will help create a special atmosphere that may differ slightly from the global identity, which is especially true if you are part of a corporation. Consider the specifics of communication, accompany the information you share with your comment, attitude, perhaps even a joke, if appropriate.

Build horizontal connections

The more effective the remote team is, the stronger the horizontal ties within it. There is no difference from standard teams, but with one exception: with a remote team, the situation is more complicated, because an office worker in Cancun is unlikely to drink morning coffee with a colleague from Sidney. To mitigate this, involve different members of your team in cross-functional projects – if necessary, make them up. Such projects will not only allow employees to get to know the business better but will also increase motivation.

Example:

Your task is to increase the engagement rate within the department. The most direct and simple way of solving this problem is to discuss the issue with the teams and organize an action plan. However, you can do it differently: chose line employees from different departments who did not know each other and ask them to find together the reasons for low engagement, and then work out an action plan to increase this indicator. This exercise itself will be the first step in increasing the engagement of a specific group of people who became ambassadors for the program.

Even if the team is remote, face-to-face meetings are very important 

Make a work schedule that will include video conferencing. In addition, include workshops or brainstorming in the agenda that will help team members formulate global goals and discuss problems. And, of course, informal team building is important: joint entertainment unites the team.

Example:

Use the “three facts” format to get to know the team: everyone reports three facts about themselves, and the team tries to guess which one is a lie. For example, an employee might say: During my student years, I worked as a ski instructor, waiter, and director’s assistant. The team makes an assumption out loud which option is not true. It is not always easy to find the right answer, and unexpected discoveries from a person’s biography are always remembered and defuse the situation.

Conclusion

The pandemic makes more and more managers lead remote employees. And it’s not always easy. Therefore, it is important not only to introduce new principles into work but also to monitor how they affect the team, so that if necessary, adjust the approach or develop your own. These techniques have proven to be effective, and we hope that they will help your team to improve engagement and communication.

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