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Managing teams can be a challenge. But what if you’re managing teams across different geographical regions and perhaps time zones?
With remote teams having become much more common in the workplace, satisfying the need for specialist expertise at a cost saving, what methods can you use to help you manage your team, successfully? Read our top tips to find out…
1. Communication is key
Managing remote teams requires greater emphasis on building trust, fostering communication, implementing team processes and utilising technology. Communicate with your team regularly and make sure your expectations and shared goals are clearly explained. Remember that the inability of being able to have team lunches or drinks is missed so make sure you schedule in Skype or FaceTime to check-in with your team. From the outset you need to establish strong procedures around communication – email, phone, video conferencing etiquette. Establish how meetings will be scheduled, when and who needs to attend each time. You also need to develop a clear change control procedure ensuring that exactly how work will be managed, information shared, reviewed and modified is absolutely clear to your team.
2. Technology is your best friend
From video conferencing services to Skype, there are so many different options out there to facilitate face-to-face meetings with employees in different physical locations. These sorts of meetings serve dual purposes on remote teams; talking about work and reminding everyone that they are actually on a team. You need to stay connected as a team and try to develop the kind of relationship that would develop in an office environment. Regular video meetings help build trust quickly, especially when a new member joins, and enable members to make more of a personal connection to facilitate better communication in the future.
3. Embrace instant messaging
We all know that email is a time-tested form of professional communication. But have you thought about utilising instant messengers? Instant messengers are much better at achieving real-time efficient of being able to just ask a question and then immediately receive a response – without delay. It’ll ensure that constant communication is possible even if you’re on different sides of the globe.
4. Have an overlap in work hours
Have some overlap in work hours so that wherever your team are based, even if there in various global locations, you can all have a video conference together at some point in the day. Have at least three to four hours a day where most of the team is ‘online’ at the same time. This is so important; not only do will it ensure you’re all on the same page, getting the work done, it’ll also ensure you’re working towards shared goals by promoting effective communication, collaboration and speedy resolutions to any issues.
5. Stay attuned to cultural sensitivities
If you have multilingual people put them in key positions whereby they can bridge any language barriers. Ensure your team is attuned to cultural sensitivities – this may require cultural sensitivity training and should be done as close to the beginning of the team forming as possible to avoid any misunderstandings further down the line.
It’s safe to say that managing remote teams is similar to managing regular teams but just requires more emphasis on building trust, fostering communication, implementing team processes and using technology wisely. As long as you keep your finger on the pulse of the team’s progress and each person’s work alongside keeping on top of advancements in technology and ensuring there is excellent technical support, your team will perform at its best!
Have you got any additional tips that you use to successfully manage your remote teams? Share them with us in the comments section below.