Managing remote employees requires its own unique skill set. Remote teams need to be handled differently than those who are physically present in the office.
To begin with, communication is crucial. Managers need to meet virtually with their remote teams regularly, both formally and informally, to stay up to date with people’s assignments and how the work is going. Managers also need to give a lot of feedback to help guide and instruct their teams.
Here are a few common mistakes people make when managing remote workers:
1. Not communicating enough
Some managers don’t realize how much they need for communication increases when people are working off-site. You can’t just stop by a person’s desk to chat about a project. It may be harder to build relationships because of the distance between managers and remote workers. Most of the interaction centers around deadlines and progress reports. There is little time spent on just casual conversation, getting to know the other person better, their background, and their challenges.
When employees are at a remote location, managers need to schedule regular meetings and touch base with people to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as goals, priorities, and schedules.
Managers also need to emphasize feedback to off-site employees as this becomes much more important for people working remotely.
This is not good no matter where your team is working. If a manager likes to micromanage, they will become frustrated very quickly working with a remote team. When working with remote employees, managers need to delegate more and develop a relationship of trust with their people.
3. Relying only on email
Email is acceptable for some types of communication, but managing a remote team requires more than that. To lead effectively, you need to have a more freewheeling give and take, conversations where problems are assessed, issues probed, questions raised, conflicts addressed, and solutions are tested.
Managers need to use video chat programs for these types of communication, which can accommodate more detailed conversations, capturing a person’s facial expression, body language, and tone of voice.
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