Newsletter - Learning Matters - No.26

Managing Remote Teams – out of sight out of mind?

Many Managers are in charge of people who they do not see on a regular basis. Most of their contact is on the phone and by email which can challenge even the most experienced business leaders if not managed in a structured way.

Common mistakes made by managers of remote teams

  1. Assuming that team members understand what is expected of them
  2. Expressing dissatisfaction with team members by email
  3. Too much group communication, too little one to one contact
  4. Not keeping them in the loop with each other – lack of regular communication
  5. Assuming the team is motivated
  6. Failing to spend time with the team
  7. Not keeping the team informed of the bigger picture ,ie how their contributions fit into the business priorities
  8. Trying to manage the remote team in the same way as the teams they work with every day

  1. Remote teams need clear objectives that they can engage with and have input into. It is essential that their objectives are discussed and reviewed on a regular basis in a more formal way than office-based teams. As the manager is not easily able to observe performance for themselves they need to set up conversations with remote workers that enable both the team members and manager to give feedback on objectives and review progress made

  2. Managers of remote teams need to give motivational and developmental feedback by phone (webcam can be useful too) but never just by email. The performance conversation needs to be followed up in writing but only after a phone conversation

  3. Remote teams need weekly conference calls to review the past week and plan the week ahead and also weekly one to one calls to discuss individual issues and concerns

  4. Weekly conference calls should be structured and well controlled by the manager to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute

  5. Remote workers may be susceptible to influences that are outside the manager’s control. Keeping in regular contact with them enables the remote manager to re-motivate them and keep them on track

  6. Always make time for remote workers – be available to them when they call and keep to your appointments with them

  7. Keep remote workers in the picture – copy them in on any company-wide issues that may give them a wider perspective of the business as a whole

  8. Remember that remote teams need closer and more structured management. Share their successes, make them feel part of a team and also part of the organisation as a whole. Communication and feedback is vital – keep talking, listen and get their buy-in

Learning Curve - Reading, Berkshire, England: +44 (0)118 987 5683

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