How to Successfully Manage Your Remote Team

World in HandThanks to technology and globalization, more and more business teams are working together across state lines and international boundaries.

Many corporations employ dispersed teams, where a manager in New York may communicate daily with colleagues in Boston, Los Angeles, and Singapore.

But even with an array of new Web-based collaboration tools at their disposal, most team leaders find managing remote teams extremely challenging.

The first challenge remote managers face is that their team may be dispersed over many time zones, requiring a healthy travel budget and the flexibility to schedule conference calls or online meetings at odd hours in order to accommodate everyone on the team.

Another challenge is the indisputable fact that not everyone possesses the self-discipline and drive to maintain morale, camaraderie and accountability while working independently.

In addition, many remote employees find it difficult to maintain consistency in communication and work flow.

Finally, the usual day-to-day “chit chat” and small talk that gets such a bad rap–but actually helps build relationships–is markedly missing on many remote teams, unless they make a concerted effort to build it into the work routine.

Successful remote team leaders are created, not born.

In order to get the most from your far-flung employees, whether they’re working from a company branch office, from home or from a hotel room, you’ll need to focus on six basic goals to ensure yours is a successful, highly functional and smooth-running team:

  1. Build a Strong Team, Starting with Yourself.
    In order to lead, you’ve got to take steps to make sure you’re up for the challenge of managing remotely.
  2. Gather the Right People.
    It’s critical to select team members who are capable of the independence, autonomy and accountability required to participate on a remote team.
  3. Put Technology to Work.
    Managing a remote team requires becoming tech-savvy and using technology to help your team communicate effectively and stay in touch, regardless of their location.
  4. Master the Art of Communication.
    Develop strong communication skills to stay “in the loop” and connected with your team in meaningful ways.
  5. Build a Sense of We.
    A highly functioning, smooth-running remote team requires strong relationships to fuel motivation, collaboration and productivity.
  6. Manage by Results.
    Shift your focus from a team member’s particular working style to the actual quality of the work produced.

Each of these goals is critical to your remote team’s success. And each deserves to be discussed on its own.

Over the next several posts, I’ll discuss each goal in turn, offering ideas and strategies to help you implement it — to make your remote team the best it can be.

Part 1 in this series will focus on how to start building a successful team by focusing on yourself — and taking the necessary steps to make sure you’re able to meet the challenges of managing remotely.

Adapted from an article By Kelly Pate Dwyer
published on 9/24/2007

Image: Filomena Scalise

About The Author:

Rob Denker is the Managing Principal of rd&partners. He helps leaders consistently see tangible, real-world benefits by making behavioral changes that are directly linked to the organization’s strategic initiatives, and their own effectiveness as a leader. Connect with Rob and rd&partners on LinkedIn.

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