Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Addressing the top five remote management challenges, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
Imagine you signed up to run your first half marathon. There are probably some challenges you can address to make the training easier and help you achieve your goal. Similarly, when managing a remote team, there are common challenges. I'll talk briefly about three of them and suggest some steps that can support you in more successfully managing these challenges. The first is communication. By nature, virtual communication can present challenges because of the opportunities to misinterpret and make assumptions.
A simple step you can take is to set up a conference call where you set expectations for what communication needs to look like. Consider identifying preferred methods of communication for anything urgent, the best ways to get in touch if a response is needed, the time of day that is best for phone calls, and how, when, or if texting should be used. Also, the more conversations you have on the phone where you get used to how an employee speaks the better you get at accurately interpreting tone and meaning.
This pertains not only to phone calls, but can carry over to emails and text messages as well. Working with tone and meaning leads right into the second challenge, conflict resolution. Misinterpretations and assumptions can be a significant source of conflict in a virtual environment. A few tips that can support you in successfully managing conflict are use phone calls versus emails. Do not try to manage conflict over email as it could be too impersonal and vague to be of help.
Second, try some mediation techniques like using the phrase, "I understand" or repeating and rephrasing what your employee is sharing. This can support keeping the conversation focused which can help keep it from becoming a wild, emotional adventure, which, more often than not, is unproductive. Lastly, focus on the cause. If you can drill through the emotions to the root cause of the conflict, you can more easily find a solution.
The third common challenge to explore can be a sore spot for many remote managers, establishing trust. Having trust can make managing much easier and more productive so here are a few things you can do to promote trust. First, show that you care. People in general are much more willing to trust someone who shows genuine concern for their well being. This is easy to adopt as a remote manager.
For example, if someone is feeling unwell or has an emergency, you could be the first to say, "Take the time you need, do what you need to do, "we'll take care of things until you get back." Second, say thank you. You can use the tips I presented in the video on rewards and recognition. Showing that you appreciate your team can encourage trust. A great quote that better explains this is by Arnold H. Glasgow. "A good leader takes a little more than his share "of blame and a little less than his share of credit." Lastly, focus on listening to your team.
Whether your virtual employee comes to you with a problem or a solution, if they feel like you're able to hear them and support them in making their job easier, they will likely trust you and the relationship. Would you prefer to train for that half marathon with someone you trust and who cares about your process and your goals? Or someone who takes no interest in you at all and shows no concern in how well or poorly you perform? You might not break a personal record, but addressing challenges in a way that can work for you and your team can help you produce results and reach your goals.
Discover how to build rapport, set mutual expectations, communicate, connect, overcome conflict, get work done, and grow the team. Also included is a look at the top five challenges managers face in leading remote teams and helpful solutions that will get your team on track.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.