Remote teams bring talent and capabilities
Many successful companies strive for talented and competent employees. In order to increase the capabilities some of them go for remote teams. However, it’s commonly acknowledged that managing dedicated virtual teams is harder. Here are the 6 tips to really help you to manage dedicated remote teams better and reap the great benefits of what they offer.
1. Hire right
Pat Brans has conducted a survey of 50 CEOs of leading companies world wide (Master the Moment). He found out that the greatest differentiator for the efficient CEOs and the greatest influencer of the results is the ability to choose what to do right. The quality of execution or how you do it comes second. The same can be applied to management of remote teams. The competence, motivation and the fit of the individuals you select for your team determines your final output significantly. Therefore proper hiring is a great priority.
We will not expand too much into this topic as it’s the whole separate field, but make sure you dedicate enough time for candidate search, appraisal and selection. Use different tools, use recommendations. Do not be afraid to consult with professionals even if some questions might sound self-evident. There are many inns and outs within the field. Dedicate some time to understand the best recruitment practices in your industry. Finally, base your choice on what they have actually done and preferably done as part of a remote team.
2. Meet the team in person
It’s a huge advantage if you manage to meet your remote team at least once. One might think that it’s an unnecessary overhead, yet the reality shows that teams, which have met their stakeholders at least once, perform better. The direct meet-up, especially combined with non-formal hanging-out, builds trust, willingness to communicate and increases motivation. Finally, the work process becomes simply more joyful, which also matters. So if you have even a slightest chance to meet your remote team, do not hesitate and do that. The modern dedicated teams (or their team leads), actually, visit their clients as well as host them at their location. In the end that’s why Europe has invested Erasmus exchange 🙂
3. Stay Obsessed With Over-communication
This is the core of agile, scrum and remote team management in general. Probably it’s the second biggest factor determining the dedicated team’s success after right hiring. The greatest difference between conventional teams and the remote ones is the physical distance and miscommunication resulted from that. Therefore make sure to over-communicate enough to overcome the physical distance gap. Communicate using chat programs, communicate via short calls, organize stand-ups, email each other, cc relevant people and have skype-alike meetings. Use proper CRM, documents sharing and task management systems. It’s important to have someone directly responsible for the communication part.
4. Stay Naked (transparent)
Staying naked in front of you remote peers sounds like a big exaggeration. Yet, it’s presented here as a metaphor and serves to illustrate a very important success factor – relationships:
Results <- The Team <- Relationships <- Trust & Sharing
First of all, it’s of upmost importance to emphasize trustworthy communication among the team. As the members are distant and cannot track what each of them is doing, honest answers are pretty important. With time and consistency it builds trust, respect and motivation and there is nothing more demotivating than peers doing one thing and speaking another.
Another way to build trust and relationships is sharing tiny personal details. The distributed teams at Buffer share different personal information like salaries, sleeping habits, insecurities and etc. They are actively encouraged to chit chat the same way as in a physical office.
Walter Chen from the Next Web goes one step forwards and even suggests having a webcam all the time on, while you’re working. That definitely adds much trust and personification.
5. Use Tech Tools
There are thousands of successful virtual teams around the world. One of their success drivers is the use of technology to communicate, coordinate and lead the software development process. We presented the a great many of free tools in our Top Free Tools To Manage Your Remote Teams article.
One thing to emphasize here is the quality of the tools. Make sure the video streams & calls are of high quality. Otherwise, the software engineers and other stakeholders won’t simply use them or use less.
6. Quantify & Measure
Finally, the last, yet one of the most important factors is the ability to quantify goals (KPIs) and be able to focus on tangibles. It’s really more difficult to evaluate the performance of remote teams and distantly working individuals than of those who sit next to you in the office. Brad McCarty from FullContact suggests the following:
“Set goals, deliver clear expectations and then let them achieve those goals and expectations in the manner that works best for them”.
Tangible goals allow combining high performance with flexibility. Make sure you have analytical systems to evaluate everyone’s performance. You may use a combination of Google Analytics, CRM dashboards and summaries from Project Management software. It can be as simple as MS Excel aggregated spreadsheets. Share the information with the team so that everybody would be aligned, know about the progress and others performance. That’s a great way to enhance motivation and foster transparency. It’s also a great way to make sure everyone performs.
To sum up
The remote teams can perform great and plenty of them are developing stunning tech products around the world. The physical distance among the team members creates some challenges, yet the best managers have learnt to overcome them. Some of the great practices include hiring the right people and meeting them; over-communication; encouraging to share personal details and chit chatting; quantifying goals and measurement as well as using the tech tools.