How to positively and productively lead a remote team

An excellent remote manager has to embody certain personal and professional qualities to manage more team members at once successfully. Despite the lack of physical presence, doing so is not as scary as it sounds. Here are some tips on doing it in a manageable and enjoyable way as a remote team manager.

Have empathy

Empathy and compassion are vital elements to any successful management style. We cannot define empathy as a simple identification with employees' challenges but as going above and beyond to build a sense of trust and understanding in your team.

In other words, the manager has to be considerate and respect the work-life balance of the remote team because nothing can entirely break apart a great team like this.

By respecting the balance between private and working time, the manager ensures that the working environment is healthy, productive, and good for the team members in the long run.

Constantly build trust

A great manager will instill trust in his team members and vice versa. Generally, trust in the workplace is a connected, interwoven cycle that goes back and forth between the two sides. Any sign of mistrust will most likely disintegrate the professional relationships.

Trust means you can know what everyone in the company does without the dreaded micromanaging. Not every encounter has to be a 1-on-1 for a manager to build trust. There are plenty of good task management apps that simplify this process without micro-controlling.

With the right approach to hiring and retention, you can streamline the management and nurturing of members and sustain an excellent team for time to come.

Have a closer and friendlier approach

One other way managers can lead remote teams and sustain them for longer is by adjusting the approach in general. The time of grumpy bosses that micromanage is over and outdated, and there is no room for something like that in this day and age.

On the contrary, globally, we all see how the traditional office concept is not substantially better than remote working in recent years. In fact, with a proper friendly approach, yet professional at the same time, the manager affects the productivity amazingly well.

Every member, without exception, likes to know that the manager is not there just to check the work and give criticism. The close, personalized, humane approach provides the work with even more value when you think about it.

Be the problem solver, not a problem trigger

With the previous fact in mind, any member is happy when there is no reason for fear or frustration in the workplace. Relationship building is more than occasional gatherings, meetings, small parties, or salaries.

Relationship building is a constant, never-ending process that has a basis in trust and a healthy and approachable attitude. Whenever you can, offer a helping hand where relevant and lead by example.

Place particular importance on onboarding

A successful manager knows that remote work is more than assigning tasks, having a stable internet connection, and nothing more.

Hence, an excellent manager will emphasize onboarding, whether remotely or in person. If managers do not handle it well, a lack of physical presence in real life and going to offices might strain people’s mental health and productiveness.

So, the least you as a manager can do is welcome new employees the right way through a more personal approach and dedicated time to help the employee ease into the job function initially.

With proper and detailed, welcoming onboarding, the manager also ensures that the new team member will do the job as good as possible, feel welcomed, and reduce any risks of improper working. This concept of good onboarding will preferably apply to anyone working for you, whether a freelancer or a vetted contractor.

Focus on one-on-one meetings and in-depth communication

An excellent remote team manager trusts the workers at their home offices but knows when and how to conduct a more personal meeting when the time is right.

For example, regularly scheduled video chats are incredibly beneficial in the long term. It is the ideal middle ground between not micromanaging yet still seeing how the work goes for everyone.

In-depth communication cannot be entirely satisfactory over a phone call, but on the other hand, professional communication does not go into strange in-depth conversations anyway. Great managers know that occasional or regularly scheduled video meetings are more than enough to monitor the work without being intrusive.

Delegate properly, but not just for the sake of work

Assigning tasks and work should not be done just to eliminate most work tasks for the sake of work but also to motivate team members to think genuinely, creatively, and positively while implementing the work.

The handoff of tasks should be simple, easy to work with, and understandable for everyone, no exception. Many tools and programs for assigning work tasks will help you keep everything nice and neat, and any clever manager would see the benefit of using them.

You’d be surprised how good of an effect clear, and understandable delegating has on the well-being of everyone in the company. Great managers are aware of this, reducing the risk of daily work misunderstandings down the road.

Be generous with feedback

It is always a great idea to provide some sort of review or feedback about the performance and productivity in general. Of course, constructive criticism is the way to go because a good manager won’t demotivate through such comments. A truly great manager will phrase the feedback in such a way that will make the member see their potential for improvement.

The opposite would be simply pointing out the employee's mistakes without offering a solution or guidance – this is not something a great manager would do. In such instances, with poorly assembled feedback, even the strongest remote team will not hold a chance in the long run because shaking up the morale of one employee will reflect on the whole team.

Cherish and respect inclusive diversity

A company that is open to diversity and inclusion is a company that will likely thrive and succeed in the time to come. But, a good manager will know in advance how to avoid time zone misalignments or at least handle them suitably.

There must be open communication between all people included in diverse team companies.

For example, try not to be biased toward certain members based solely on their availability hours or similar.

Motivate through politeness

What is a better role model for employees than becoming and presenting the version of yourself that you want people to admire?

Any manager that wants to lead nicely should lead by example. Mutual empowerment is executed through politeness, good communication, and a positive outlook on the work and within the team.

Insensitive or rigid managers demotivate their team members and instill fears that cripple the workers to discuss or ask for guidance. On the other hand, a polite and motivating manager leads by example, instills a love for the job, and increases productivity.

The takeaway

Handling remote workers is possible, and it is easy to do if the manager has a clear goal, always keeping workers happy and productive.

In conclusion, for a manager to successfully assemble, lead, and sustain a remote team, they should acquire personal and professional adjustments and present them consistently over time.

Whenever the managers themselves possess and reflect the values they like to see in their remote team employees, every job seems manageable and easygoing, and productivity is the proof of that.

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