As team leaders, managing work remotely is not new. Technology has long plagued our own vacation time, sick time, and evenings for many years. However, managing a workforce that is remote for an extended time may be new territory. With coronavirus v2019, team leads may be forced to adapt quicker than usual to their team’s unique structure.
While Njevity, Inc. has an HQ with regular officemates, many team members only work remotely all over the country. The company also has an open policy when it comes to work-from-home requests. After all, PowerGP Online is designed to help our customers have the freedom to accomplish their work where they desire, so why shouldn’t we encourage our own team to live out what we promise to our customers?
Having lived the remote work life for so long, here are 5 ways to be a successful remote team leader*:
1. Know Your People
This is more than trusting your people (though you need to learn how to do that too). As a team lead, you need to get to know your people. Learn what triggers their fears (especially during this time). Learn what sets their spirit alight into action. Learn what other variables they must juggle when working from home. And come to know them well enough to recognize when tip number 2 needs to be put into action.
Knowing these things about your employees isn’t just to get insight into how to help them structure their day or delegate projects. It’s about understanding mental load in a stressful and fear-inducing environment. Burnout can happen even faster for a remote worker, because any barriers between home-work and work-work can quickly become blurred. This can go both ways too! That computer tauntingly sits in the corner even as they are on the couch, enjoying family time. Life-worlds will collide in unexpected ways, but they are both entirely manageable if team leads know how to help set healthy boundaries on either side – and keep to them!
Yes, team leads – that means to know when to thank someone for stepping up and taking care of an issue at midnight versus knowing when to not send that 10PM email to an employee. They will feel obligated to respond even if it can wait until morning.
2. Step Up
Communication is a kind of buzzword in the workplace. We all know it has to happen – both the praising conversations and the rehabilitation conversations. This isn’t new, and there are tons of articles and blogs out there to help make that happen in a remote situation.
But I encourage all team leads to step up. We all get busy in the day-to-day. Even in the office, some days may come and go without us talking to team members. That balance works great for some, but others benefit from more interaction. Build outreach to team members into your day. Know your team members well enough to know who enjoys daily conversation, the little “how are you?”s, the funny memes, and the quick article share. These can really mean a lot when you get busy and seemingly ghost someone without even knowing it – and that will happen! Problems often arise when team members are only involved in business conversations, questions about updates, and corrections.
Be mindful of your culture even when you can’t see it.
3. Inspect What You Expect
Trust is vital. Every team lead should trust each and every team member. This is true both in the office and in a remote work environment. But let’s face it –a few holes get punched in that theoretical design every now and again – and those holes can be exasperated in a remote work environment.
Team leads build processes that allow them to routinely inspect their expectations an allow for healthy conversation when kinks are found, or balls get dropped. Clear, communicated, and agreed-upon expectations are step one. Step two is to ensure you are leading your team in helping achieve those expectations, not micromanaging, and learn to recognize when you dropped the ball or causing the kink by not having appropriately executed step one.
4. Know Your Routine
Some remote workers will say a daily routine is essential. Others thrive by the flexibility working from home can provide. Figure out your own style then analyze how to best fit that style with your team members. Again, tip number 1 becomes crucial here. Consider time zone differences, early birds, owls**, lunch walkers, yoga breakers, etc. These routine add-ins can help enhance someone’s abilities. Encourage it for them, and encourage it for yourself.
However, for team leads, I add the extra challenge of building in tips 1 and 2 into your routine. Make them a part of your fabric of existence.
**Honestly, this is why I think working remotely is more than just trendy and must be advanced even further than it commonly is. We all have times of the day when we perform the best. Don’t force your team into a 9-5 structure if it isn’t necessary. You may not get the best work out of them that way!
5. Check Yourself
It’s easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions even when we are all in the office living amongst each other’s presence through the daily ups and downs. Check yourself when that manager’s heat level starts to rise and lean on the procedures, processes, and resources you’ve established. Talk it out with other team leads. Get guidance. Have open and honest communication. And be willing to recognize when you need to re-access your own expectations.
I challenge you to one more task – Build your own support systems for working remotely. All of the above applies to the team lead as well – we are susceptible to the same pitfalls of isolation!
And by all means, make your life a little bit easier by providing yourself the tools to inspect and operate. PowerGP Online can help you work and manage the business remotely. It’s a cloud ERP made to do just that!
- Premium MFA Security
- Approve and monitor processes like purchase orders on your phone
- Get payroll done
- Generate reports
- Integrate with your other systems
- Control, predict and monitor your cash flow
- And so much more
* If you’re looking for ways to ensure a healthy transition on an organizational scale, check out 5 Ways to Be a Successful Remote Organization.
Ready to prep your team in a time of additional stress? Read and share 5 Ways to Be a Successful (Stressed) Remote Worker.