A leader has different challenges when it comes to supervising employees remotely. It requires a different approach, which is a balanced mix of trust and supervision. So why does it pose a challenge?
Well, for starters, a leader can’t pop up to their team members’ desks and catch up with them to see how the day is going. And most importantly, it doesn’t allow both parties to build a healthy relationship.
In my last blog, I mentioned that although managing teams remotely might seem easy enough to do, it requires the right execution and commitment to make it work.
Today, let’s look at a few tips to guarantee your employees work efficiently and with accountability when working remotely.
Remote working arrangements equal to increased communication between employees and managers. As a manager, you need to convey what you expect from your team, and when you expect them to deliver. Whatever your communication style, be it email, phone, teleconference, make it known. Likewise, if you expect regular updates from your team, let them know. Once specific targets are met, share those with the team. Communication is a two-way street.
Nothing would frustrate anyone more than having to re-do a piece of work because expectations weren’t agreed upon in the beginning.
Also, communicate deadlines repeatedly. In my last blog, I mentioned that some might slack off or fall prey to ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Setting hard deadlines will help mitigate some of these issues. They are also an excellent way for you as a manager to touch base with your employees without them seeing you micromanaging them.
So, communication is key to managing employees remotely and building a high performing team.
Although checking-in is essential, it’s not something you do as and when you like. By doing so randomly, you might not only disrupt their work but also risk putting your employees on edge. It could also be perceived that you don’t trust your employees. Try to schedule your check-ins, so it gives you as well as your employee time to prepare. With this, you both will be able to get the most out of the time.
If something isn’t working, let your employee know but do this as part of your check-in and not on a random call. Explain how you would like it to work and how you would like the employee to improve. Re-doing the work yourself, because you can’t be bothered explaining it to your employee will only undermine their effort and lead to mistrust.
When giving feedback, most leaders forget that it works both ways. Always ask your employee for feedback too. After all, we are all here to learn and better ourselves. Ask them if they need extra support or information from you. It will allow you as a leader to improve your leadership skills as well.
Tailor Your Leadership Approach
Every leader will have a diverse range of employees based on gender, experience level, tenure with the company. Employees fresh out of university will require more supervision than someone with more experience. Also, employees who have just been onboarded might need a little more direction than employees who have had a longer tenure with the company.
Now put yourself in a situation where you are a leader who has just started with the company. The team might have background knowledge about a piece of work that will help you be a better leader to them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for guidance about the ways of working too. After all, that’s what teamwork is all about.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship, be it personal or professional. As a leader, it is essential first to understand how each individual in your team works and then figure out how to manage them. As I have said in the past, one size does not fit all. If your team members work independently and hold themselves accountable for the work they produce, trust them! Undermining their ownership of the tasks will only lead to a decrease in output as well as motivation. If, after all this, the employee just doesn’t stand up to expectations (which you have communicated to them clearly), then you can increase supervision. In doing so, you should talk to them via your check-ins, so it does not come as a surprise.
If it is all working hunky-dory, then don’t be afraid to empower them with their own decision making and how they manage their work and time.
Supervising employees remotely really tests your skills as an effective leader. Get it right, and you land yourself a team where employees feel empowered and want to work for you. After all, people don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad leaders!