Keys to Manage Newly Remote Teams

Keys to Manage Newly Remote Teams

Dear Yogesh,

In the past few weeks, we have totally changed the way we function. From a few departments to our complete office, we all have started working from home, and it’s unclear until when this will continue. I have a team of 8 people and I am feeling anxious so-as-to how I’m going to manage these teams remotely. It’s a sudden shift from face-to-face interactions to this kind of working and it’s my responsibility to maintain the positivity, passion and a sense of accountability amongst all of them. Looking for your guidance on how I can manage them virtually, especially at this time of uncertainty and anxiety.

Yours Sincerely

Dear Sangeeta,

Thank you for bringing up your concern and believing in me. I am sure, this is a matter of concern for you, and everyone around the world. The world is going through the storm of fear and anxiety and keeping the team intact, positive and going is reflection of your responsibility and great leadership skills. Whilst fighting the pandemic COVID19 and looking at all negative things happening around, we must also look at the positive side of it; this is the time when most of the people in your teams will show their true colors. You must already be facing issues in dealing with the ones who lack commitment, sincerity and are always available with some or the other excuses.

Before I give you some very easy and implementable tips, I’d like you to know some very important highlights of the recent survey on the impacts of the COVID-19, done by VitalSmarts, US. Here are the glimpses:

  • Many organizations have been agile in taking measures for health and safety of their employees.
  • More than 1 in 5 employees feel the collaboration, communication and habits of their teams working from home needs improvement.
  • Employees say that 1 in 5 leaders are either very unprepared or unprepared to manage remote teams.

Distance has always been a challenge in managing teams. While working remotely, people, very conveniently drag their concerns, or highlight them only when asked, which results in poor performance, deteriorating productivity, loss of time and eventually a failure of a team.

This is clear that communication is the key to manage remote teams. Like we teach in our Crucial skills trainings- teams that can hold candid and effective dialogue—minus the emotions and politics—experience higher morale and team cohesion.

And, as a manager, it’s your responsibility to foster a culture of open dialogue. This is how you can do:

  1. Have frequent check-ins:When working remotely for a longer duration, you need to have a routine for yourself where you keep a consistent check on your team. It can vary form a con call with everyone to a separate one-on-one call with each team member. These check-ins may be scheduled daily, weekly or bi-monthly as per the format and nature of your work.
  2. Direct interactions: while direct face-to-face interactions aren’t possible, you can still insist your teams to interact directly on the phone, or on video calls, or face time (virtual face-to-face interaction). This will help you keep the teams intact and will be able to see each other occasionally.
  3. Solid communication Skills: managing teams remotely require a lot of patience and listening. You have to be a great listener, communicate with trust and respect and ensure it happens on both the sides. Also, keep conversing on the calls to resolve dependencies and concerns, but don’t nag. You can always share emails on the points your discussed (minutes of meeting) to ensure that you and your teams are on same page.
  4. Establish Expectations: Establishing expectations with respect to work, sincerity, discipline, daily calls and adherence to the rules of work is very important. I am sure you must have done this while planning your work, but you must keep it documented and keep reminding your teams about it, whenever you feel the need of it.
  5. Be available: Technology has changed the way we’ve been working, and this is the best time to make use of it. Be available on phone calls, use face time, WhatsApp calls, video conferencing over ZOOM, etc to ensure your availability for your teams and management. This ensures your approachability, so the work continuity isn’t hampered.
  6. Value People: whilst working remotely, team building, and camaraderie become even more important. This will be challenging, and you’d have to put in an extra effort to ensure that relationships are not compromised. You can have a specified meeting as ‘cooler sessions’ that will be specified to sharing thoughts, personal and professional experiences and brainstorming. These kinds of conversations eventually result in strengthened teams at both, workplaces and remote locations.

Hope this helps, wishing you all the best!

Best Wishes,

Yogesh Sood

PS- This blog is inspired by the thoughts of Justin Hale which he shared on 18th March 2020.

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Yogesh is the founder and CMD of BYLD Group. BYLD is the largest group in the South Asian region, offering value-added services in HR, Leadership /Organizational Development, Business Operations, Manpower Staffing, Technology, and Executive Coaching. He leads the board of Indian operations of Blanchard Research and Training, Door Training and Consulting, VitalSmarts (LCPL), YOMA group and Aspectum Consulting, Finland. These organisations have expertise in complete organisational development and performance enhancement solutions, including Consulting/Training/Coaching. Yogesh is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and College of Executive Coaching USA. He founded the first ICF (International Coach Federation) chapter in South Asia in 2015.



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