As the world changes, our lives change as well. Decades ago it was hard to imagine a team of people working together online. Years ago online workers existed yet, they rarely worked for big companies. But now you won’t surprise anyone by hiring a team of online professionals to work for you – in fact, even big companies do so.
While online workers can benefit a company in so many ways, managing such team is not an easy task. If you’re lucky, your employees all live in one country – or in the same time zone, at least. If you aren’t, you have to keep their schedules in mind. But either way, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to work together and how can you build better engagement with your online team as well.
So if you want to become a successful boss or a team manager, here’s what you should focus on.
Tip 1: Always listen to your employees
One of the biggest mistakes team managers make is not paying attention to their employees’ needs and ideas. This might make them feel sidelined and affect their productivity, but what’s even more important is that you might miss some of the amazing ideas they have.
Remember that you hired your team because they have all the necessary skills and experience to get the job done. They also might have some ideas and suggestions about how the things should work. And even if you don’t find these ideas appealing, you should still listen to them and try to consider them.
Tip 2: Encourage feedback
If you want to improve the team’s performance, be sure to make your feedback as detailed as possible. Focus on both positive and negative aspects of their work. Tell your team what you like, and explain in detail what you feel can be improved. Encourage them to give their own feedback as well.
Open communication creates a more positive atmosphere within the team and allows all of its members to improve. If you feel like members of your team aren’t comfortable voicing their opinion, you can create anonymous online surveys to get some feedback from them.
Tip 3: Make sure that roles and responsibilities are clear
When it comes to managing a team of remote workers, it’s extremely important to ensure that their work is well-structured and all each person knows what they’re doing. Otherwise, you might find that two members of your team have been working on the same task for a while, for example.
Always tell your team members what you expect them to do and what are they responsible for. Also, consider using task management tools (if you don’t do this yet), so each team member can see which tasks they are working on and which tasks their colleagues are working on. The more you clarify that, the easier it will be to measure the employees’ performance in the future.
Tip 4: Encourage real-time communication
Both task managers and group chats (such as Skype or Slack) work well enough for that. You can easily pick a tool that suits your budget and satisfies your needs, and gather all the team members there.
Communication within a team is necessary, especially if all team members (or most of them) work on the same projects at least some of the time. For example, when a writer needs to craft a text for a website, it’s always better when they see how much space they have – and they need a designer to tell them that. That’s why one of your main goals is to ensure that all team members can communicate when they need to.
Tip 5: Acknowledge the team’s achievements
It might sound surprising but actually, it’s not the salary and the career perspectives that often keep people working for one company for a long time. Sure, these things are important too, but many people prefer to work somewhere when they feel acknowledge and appreciated for their achievements.
Recognizing people for their accomplishments isn’t hard, yet it can bring amazing results. You can praise them, you can give them bonuses for good performance, you can even establish a system of rewards and/or badges – choose what seems the most appealing.
Tip 6: Always delegate responsibility
This is important because of two main reasons. First, it allows each member of your team to show what they’re capable of, to develop professionally, and to build important skills. Second, this way you’ll ensure that none of your workers will be overloaded with tasks of different kinds.
A good team manager always delegates tasks according to the strengths and weaknesses of all team members. This helps to avoid pressure as well as to avoid stressing out the most responsible workers with too many tasks.
Tip 7: Give people opportunities to grow
When it comes to office workers, companies usually give employees plenty of room to grow – so why should it be different for remote workers? These days there are so many ways for you to benefit remote workers, from offering them online training and promotion to encouraging them to start working at your office in the future.
Sure, not all of your workers will take advantage of this opportunity, but it is still important for you to create it. This will inspire team members to perform better as well as encourage them to stay with your company for a long time.
Tip 8: Try to assemble in the office
Of course, this option won’t work for everyone, but if it’s possible, you should definitely try holding an offline office meeting at least once a year.
The thing is, while messengers do work and allow the team to communicate and cooperate effectively, nothing is as effective as an offline meeting. Moreover, this will be a great way to strengthen team’s spirit by giving them an opportunity to get to know each other better.
Though managing an online team still can seem a new and a bit strange concept to some of us, it’s actually totally possible, especially if you focus on those tips.