Managing a remote team is no walk in the park. For the team manager, the distance and the disconnect of the remote set up can be tough to handle. Keeping everyone progressing on a project and moving forward together can be harder to do when you’re not all in the same place. And what if something goes wrong? What if there’s an issue or someone needs support? How do we make sure they can get that help if they’re so dispersed and displaced?
When the team is dispersed, communication becomes even more crucial. They won’t bump into their managers in the corridor, there’ll be no brief meeting in the lift, no moments for a quick catch up. There’s no opportunity to put their head round the door for some advice or answers. But remote workers need the same support as everyone else. It’s probably more important in their case to make sure that support is in place. Without support through regular communication with their managers, remote workers might understandably wonder how valued they are. Let’s not assume that no news is good news. Sometimes the opposite is the case.
Feedback isn’t just about keeping that connection, its about keeping the connection open.
Connections, connections, so many connections. So many ways of delivering a message. Its important for managers to remember that the method should always depend on the message. It’s even more important when managing remote teams to choose the right media. For instance, if its a simple message to praise someone’s work, a simple text or instant message works fine. No problem, that's fine. More critical feedback, news that isn’t necessarily positive, should always be delivered one-to-one, at least by phone, but a video call would be even better. Body language is important, facial expressions enhance the message, they help tell the story, and people will always react better if they feel the message is being delivered sensitively and in person.
When it comes to more positive appraisals, it's good to go public. Letting the whole team see you praising a specific person creates stronger bonds between the team as well as encouraging the individual team member. Making it public, on a group message, a newsletter or conference call, gives the message a broader meaning too. It drives the whole team forward. And let’s be honest, we all like people to know when we’re being praised, don’t we?
Creating a culture with regular feedback at its centre is important, especially when the team is so dispersed. And of course, feedback works best as a two-way street. Its important for the remote worker to feel as involved, as much a part of the plan as those in the office. Managers need to keep the door open, to welcome input from their remote teams. Thanks to that distance, that separation, they see the bigger picture on projects and may have a different angle. And at the end of the day, there’s no such thing as too much information when there’s a project to be delivered. That means giving them their say, and making sure its heard. It means being specific with feedback, not just throwing out a virtual pat on the back. Just hurling out instructions from high above helps nobody and does nothing for productivity or motivation.
Wundamail is a simple team management tool that keeps the door open, keeps the conversation 'live', communication flowing and gives everyone their say. Managers and peers can support each other through the simple process of answering a single question they’ll find in their inbox at the end of each day. What did you do today? The next morning, everyone gets an email with a list of the whole team’s answers. The feedback becomes a daily part of the workplace culture, no matter where in the world the team members are. Everybody’s kept informed, the connections are strengthened, and managers can monitor progress, both of the team and of individuals.
Feedback is a powerful tool for motivation and productivity. Using it effectively with remote teams makes all the difference.