In recent years, companies have shifted their policy on team structure. Instead of working in the same building, or even the same time zone, contractors are being sourced from around the world. Your team could include members from North and South America, Europe or Asia – where team members all come with unique experiences and opinions shaped by their local culture.
Remote teams are desirable for their ability to work around the clock at a lower cost than an internal team. Working with remote team members also requires consistent organization and communication. To help you face these challenges, follow these five management tips.
Communication is Key
In an office setting, you can clearly see when your team member is having an off day. Over the computer, you can’t catch physical cues. To make communication as direct as possible, encourage your team to engage in one-on-one video chat sessions or conference calls.
Whether in-person or across the ocean, communication between team members and management is essential to project success. Unfortunately, distance can make communication difficult. Planning calls and meetings across time zones can be difficult as well without reasonable notice, which is where an organized path for team communication comes into play.
Create a Healthy Mix of Personal and Professional
Some project managers believe running off-topic is anti-productive. This isn’t necessarily true. Consider how important your running jokes, interest-based conversations and personal talks are to your remote team’s rapport. Think of it as a natural substitute for the interactions your remote employees might have if they were in your office.
If your team members are engaging in natural small talk, don’t crush it – enjoy it! Many teams are unable to develop this kind of relationship, and need a social push from management to get started.
Give Constructive Feedback
As a team manager, you’ll discover a stark difference between constructive and destructive feedback. Constructive feedback is specific, empathetic, and communicative. When receiving this feedback, team members should feel free to comment or ask questions about your thoughts. On the other hand, destructive feedback can range from passive comments that don’t help advance the project to verbal abuse and using thoughtless language to share a broad complaint.
Leading a remote team is no different than managing employees in your office in this sense. Your team needs to know where they can improve in order to meet the goals and deadlines set for them.
Accept and Promote Freedom
You’ve chosen to have a remote team for a reason. All remote teams should be somewhat independent, otherwise you aren’t playing to your strengths. Take advantage of the flexibility and freedom your remote team offers. This will encourage creativity, open communication and comfort. Remember, your team members are looking for guidelines, not a rulebook!
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid challenges in remote team optimization is thinking ahead. Ask yourself what common problems your team members might face. Are there significant differences in time zone, culture, or language? Make a list of possible issues and find your go-to solution for each one. This will save you time, money, and resources in the future.
At PMO Partners, we recognize your need for reliable and talented contractors. Contact our team for assistance in your ongoing search for top project management talent.