Dr Tim Baker helps leaders enhance team performance. He applies his expertise in merging the changing needs and interests of organisations and employees through the lens of a PhD in Education. With many workplaces now adopting a work from home hybrid, Tim shares five tips for managing remote teams.
Working from home is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, many managers I've spoken with over the past few months are apprehensive about this. Given the trend towards working remotely, here are my five top tips for leaders:
Tip #1: Manage outcomes, not processes
Focus on outcome, not process. Rather than worry about the steps people need to take to complete the tasks required, concentrate on priorities and the result. What needs to be done today? And what can you expect to be completed by the end of the day? are two good questions to consider. What time someone completed a task (if it is before an agreed deadline), where they complete it (bathroom, bedroom, or balcony), or even how they complete it, is not as important. The most important thing is to complete the right tasks with the right outcome. Aim for this.
Tip #2: Manage expectations
Agree upon your expectations with the other person(s). Negotiate if necessary. Ask the following question: Can we agree on this? Can you commit to getting this done today? You are managing outcomes, not the time it takes or how it's to be done. Leave those responsibilities to the team member.
Tip #3: Check-ins
A great way to start the day is with a daily check-in for your team. These online meetings play several important roles. You can gain agreement on priorities and expectations. It’s an opportunity to develop camaraderie and have some fun. You reduce the tyranny of isolation. It can be used to generate a team discussion. Expectations can be set. The online meeting could last 30-minutes, or longer if need be. It's better to have more frequent, shorter meetings in a remote environment, than longer, less frequent get togethers.
Tip #4: Make your meetings interesting
Most platforms can facilitate group meetings where people can contribute (or not contribute!). I find Zoom particularly good for group meetings. You can even have break-out sessions during the meeting and get people to come back and share what they’ve discussed. What about a guest speaker? Link up with someone who might be interested in talking about your field of expertise. What about inviting the CEO to come online for ten minutes to answer questions? The possibilities are endless.
Tip #5: Create an upward spiral of positivity
Turn on the TV for five minutes and watch the news or look at your social media stream; it can be a negative experience. What's going on around us can easily create a downward spiral of negativity. As the leader, you have a responsibility to be as positive as you can; to bring your best self to work.
Begin your daily check-in by asking each team member to identity one positive over the past 24-hours. It could be personal or work-related. I call this 'win for the day'. Some people will struggle to think of something and that is why it's a good thing to start the day with. After a couple of goes at this, you'll find people will be prepared and even look forward to sharing some good news with their team members.
And finally, YOU need to stay positive. Your team needs you to be in a good frame of mind, as challenging as this might be.
More about Tim
Dr Tim Baker is the alumni representative on the QUT Council. He specialises in leadership development and performance management. For the past 26 years, Tim has helped managers develop productive workplace cultures through Winners at Work.