Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Working successfully as a remote manager, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
Imagine it's Aunt Edna's birthday and you need to order flowers. You live in California and Aunt Edna lives in New York where there's been a terrible blizzard. To ensure you don't end up with frozen flowers on the door step, you want to coordinate successful delivery. You have to think about scheduling, communicating, and verifying details so your Aunt Edna knows when she needs to be home to accept the delivery. As a remote manager, you have to think about the same things as with Aunt Edna.
I have four communication planning recommendations to help you become a more successful manager of remote employees. The first recommendation relates to scheduling. You're probably thinking this is a relatively simple concept and you're right. It's also a simple concept that has the potential for creating a big impact when it's mismanaged. A few key tips to keep in mind, whenever you're scheduling anything with your remote team. Tip number one, keep time zones in mind.
There are several applications and virtual tools that can assist you with this. Which means you get to manage it without it taking up a ton of your mental space. Tip number two, respect your team's calendars. Do not schedule over any pre-existing appointments without having a conversation first. If you notice an employee has an appointment during a time you want to schedule a meeting, see if their schedule can be rearranged. If it can, great! If not, assign someone to take thorough notes to be sent out afterwards.
Last and final tip, be mindful of all national, regional, and religious holidays. If you have employees in different countries holidays will vary. Note this and be mindful of them when you schedule things. These all need to be considered for meetings, projects, and milestones. My second area of focus is your communication approach. Take a minute to think through how you plan on communicating.
I suggest creating a semi-formal communication plan to set expectations with your team. Some things to consider for your plan: the frequency of communication needed, the methods you should use, such as phone, email, text, Skype, etcetera. The format of your communications, are they formal or informal? Lastly, be mindful of the purpose and objective of your communications, so you could choose the best communication approach.
For example, you don't want to have a debate using email. My third recommendation is to focus on verifying your communications without having the luxury of swinging by someone's desk. Verification becomes a major part of managing a remote team. When any action has to be taken verification should happen. It could be a simple check in, confirming a change, deadline, hand off process, issue or a resolution.
If you find yourself wondering, if you are in sync with a remote team member stop wondering and verify. Lastly, make building meaning agendas a standard practice. Imagine 10 ship captains that need to end up at the same place at the same time. You can bet they would use a GPS and navigational maps to ensure they arrive safely. In meetings, your agenda is the equivalent.
The thing that gets your team members to the same place at the same time. Here are a few pointers for creating a useful agenda: always include the timeline, date, participants, objectives, and intended outcomes. Each team member presents a topic, for instance sharing progress and projects, issues and request for support. Lastly, include a review or preview section which reviews accomplishments and previews future activities.
Through well structured communication you can help improve your success as a manager and maybe even a ship captain.
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.
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