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The ultimate guide to managing a team of remote employees

The ultimate guide to managing a team of remote employees

Being a great business leader is not easy. While every great business leader needs to know how to manage a team well. Future leaders can add another item to their list of required skills : Managing a Remote Team. We came up with the ultimate guide to managing a remote team of great talent. In this article, you will find the best tools and skills to effectively manage a global team.

Deepak Lalit
August 4, 2021

7 Steps on effectively managing a team of remote employees

Working remotely is for many, a win-win situation as you have the opportunity to hire the best talent regardless of the location and save on budget. Employees can be more productive as they're usually working from the comfort of their homes and save time and money on commuting.

But when you are not able to physically guide or monitor your workforce, it is harder to make sure they're all on the same page and providing feedback is harder. Here's some steps you can take to build a better and more productive environment for your team.

1 Hire Tech-savvy people and train your team on Tech

Its important to make sure that your workforce is tech savvy and familiar with the tools that power the modern internet. That doesnt just mean people who are good at using technology, but those that are aware of the tools and resources out there (e.g. automation ) that can increase your effectiveness. You may want to use that as a criteria when hiring all your remote employees, or look for an individual member of the team who can support others. Someone who is ready to solve technical issues makes a huge difference in the speed and efficiency of an organization.

In addition - you should look to train the other team member on effective use of technology. Another thing to keep in mind is to create company documents and assets that can be re-used. For example, if you are creating Training material for your team. Preparing a short video tutorial often makes their work easier. You can use tools like Loom to record minutes videos of yourself while recording the screen. These videos can be stored in a repository for your team to access later in their own time.

2. Define (and document) roles clearly with your team

When there's no physical workspace, everything becomes harder. From setting goals and tasks to congratulate your team for their achievements. That's why you need to explain to your team exactly what you want and when you want it. Be as detailed as possible and if you have it written down even better. Each person's role within your team should be clearly defined (and documented ) so that they can be re-visited by the employee and their manager.

3. Track and monitor projects.

Tracking and monitor your team process is vital for the success of your company. Things can get really messy really quickly if there's no clear direction and constant feedback.

Having regular meetings is a good place to start. Most remote companies have at least a weekly management meeting, an all-team meeting and several one-to-one meetings. You can decide on the frequency and agenda of the meetings based on the specifics of your company. But it is helpful to keep some guiding principles in mind as you approach all your meetings.

  • Set daily and weekly tasks. (Make sure that team members understand everything).
  • Determine if there's something they're struggling with and try to fix it during the call or connect them with someone that can.
  • Discuss improvement plans or encourage them to come up with ideas and projects and give them ownership.
  • Before the meeting, make them research for suggestions for existing project problems and do the problem solving together.

Sometimes a simple checklist won't be enough. You will also need some sort of project management tool. Nowadays there are countless tools that will help you to organize your ideas, team, deadlines, documents, etc. Project dashboards will tell you at a glance whether your project is on track and which areas need immediate attention or improvement. You can also determine what's urgent and what can wait.

You can also build reports to analyze your data and make the necessary changes for future campaigns. Some of the most popular project management tools for small and medium businesses are Asana, ClickUp, Trello, and Notion. They're all different, you will need to choose the one that best adapts to your business, team, and workflow.

Best for getting started: Trello

Best for large groups: Asana

Best for robust projects: Clickup

Best for Creating an Internal Wiki: Notion

Hiring remote talent implies working with freelancers, and they often juggle several jobs at the same time (unless you hire them full-time). So have them give you a work schedule, ask them how they prefer working. This will calm your anxiety about unfinished tasks and give them the freedom of delivering high-quality work at their own pace.

4 Communicate Frequently

Unfortunately, there's no way to literally approach your employee and set up goals and action plans. That's why it's important to communicate often, especially if you are managing several remote employees at the same time.

For some people, it might take a little extra effort to recreate such communication and it might be harder to understand the brief and follow instructions, this will lead to delays and frustrations. We want to avoid all that by encouraging team members to communicate regularly. You can determine the frequency according to the complexity of the project and the amount of teammates.

You should also consider the type of employee you hired. Freelancers responsiveness will be different from full time staff members. Setting up timeframes to catch up with your freelancer will help you to keep communication flowing.

Everyone in your team should be able to easily reach you out. Either by email, phone, chat or any other communication tool. The most frequent communication tools that are effective for small and medium teams are Slack, Skype, Zoom, Google Meets and Gmail.

Most businesses use Slack as their preferred way of communication. Why? Because it got everything! They cleverly integrated many key factor of efficient communication such as promptly responses, collaborative work channels, kicking off projects, etc.

You can also integrate productivity tools like Trello, Dropbox and even software developed by your team. You can discuss a particular project within a channel which you can shared with specific teams. The teams can be divided into departments like Marketing, Community Management, HR, Finance, etc. You will be able to change your status and indicate if you're in a meeting, available or offline.

Read More: Is Slack the best communication tool for your biz?

5 Measure and Set Expectations

The only way to make progress is to measure and collect data. There's no way to make thoughtful decisions without historical data and results.

If an employee is taking too long on a particular tasks, it might be because they didn't get the brief or are unfamiliar with the tools. This will trouble everyone, as you're not making any progress and it causes distress to your team member.

KPIs will help you to better understand your performance based on measurable key goals objectives. There are different types of KPIs according to each department. Here are the most common ones:

Sales Performance Metrics:

  • How many sales each agent has closed.
  • Revenue per sales agent
  • Number of leads against number of confirmed potential leads

Marketing Performance Metrics:

  • Overall Engagement
  • ROMI (Return on marketing investment)
  • Website leads conversion rate

Read More: Set up your freelancer for success by doing these 6 things

6. Employee recognition

You can also use this opportunity to celebrate your remote employee progress. Celebration and recognition is essential to keep your team engaged and motivated, in person and remotely. Many workers might feel isolated and disconnected from this new work reality. Share positive feedback, be fun and  as informal as you can be.

If your team feels connected to your company and mission, they will go above and beyond to make things happen and see results. Just like you.

7. Tips from the Community

7a Treat employees as individuals

Each remote employee comes from different backgrounds and has different skills and motivations. A good leader should be able to identify the strengths, weaknesses and needs of the freelancers working for them. A good freelancing relationships is not a "gig" but rather a long terms and nourishing partnership. If one of your employees prefer to work late at night, encourage it, as long as the work gets done.

7b Trust your Staff

Remote working implies a lot of trust, as you are physically not able to watch over your staff. If you hire someone, you should be able to fully trust them, and if they're not meeting your expectations, do follow ups, have a meeting, face the issues and discuss what can be done to fix it.

Micromanaging is one of the most common reasons why freelancers quit. Clear communication is the opposite of micromanaging. So avoid the urge of micromanaging by setting weekly or daily catch up meetings and set clear expectations.

7c Coffee Time

Social interaction can be a challenge if you are working fully remotely.  Specially if workers have been abruptly sent to work from home. There are many ways to provide some out of work environment. You can dedicate the first 10 minutes of your weekly meeting to discuss no business topics or set a coffee time (paid time) to talk about the team in a personal level. Other companies offer "party care packages" where employees can buy food paid by the company.

If you are looking to hire tech-savvy freelancers who can be a part of your team. Then head over to  Proven Team where you can find the best experienced freelancers to make your remote workflow smooth.

Deepak Lalit

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