Different locations, different countries, different time zones!

Managing remotely creates many challenges for a manager over and above those faced by those in charge of more traditional teams.

When you’re not in regular, physical contact with your team members, you have to work doubly hard to build trust, team spirit, relationships and a common focus.  But even if you don’t have to manage a remote team all the time, there may be occasions when members of staff may decide to work from home. My case in point is for employees who work in London and who have decided to work remotely today, just to avoid the chaos and delays to their commute cause by tube strike action.

These 5 Top Tips will help you to avoid many of the pitfalls in managing a remote team and provide a solid base from which to work:-

1.Communicate regularly

Poor communication is one of the biggest problem areas in managing a remote team. Even though you send out that group e-mail, don’t assume that it was received and understood by everybody.

Use a wide range of communication methods, bearing in mind that the most convenient method for YOU, is not necessarily the most effective method for THEM.

It’s a good idea to set up regular touch points – even if there is little to say, to avoid people feeling that they’re being missed out.

2.Clarify goals

When people are separate geographically, they need to have a very clear reason for doing what you want them to do.

Taking time helping people to translate the bigger picture into personal goals and objectives that they feel committed to, is very important.

3.Be seen to be fair

It’s not good enough to treat people in the team fairly – you must BE SEEN to treat them fairly.

It’s only natural that the people you spend most time with will, (rightly or wrongly), be considered to be treated more fairly.

Resist temptation to rely on those people closest to you or easiest to contact.

Make an effort to equally involve each person in the team.  This may be something as simple as moving the location of your monthly meeting so that each month one person doesn’t have to travel.

If you work internationally, consider the time of your web conferences or calls. Do certain people in other time zones always have to attend at unsociable hours?

4.Empower people

You simply cannot micromanage a remote team!

Be clear about what you want your people to do – any restrictions or parameters, give them the necessary information, and leave them to do it!

It’s also important to delegate responsibility to a certain point so that you don’t become a bottleneck.

5.Use, don’t abuse, technology!

Fancy technology won’t manage your team for you!

Managing is all about people skills, not tech.

That doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t make the best use of modern technology. Email, telephone, video conference, social media and the like, can all help you to reduce the gap between you and your team members, and enable you to manage them correctly.

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