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How to Manage (Not Micromanage) a REMOTE TEAM

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The 10 Minute MBA, is a no-fluff daily podcast that teaches you practical business lessons you can use to grow your business immediately.

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Welcome to the ten minute MBA. I'm your host, Scott D Clary, and today I'm going to teach you how to effectively work and manage remote teams. Now, let's face it, remote work is not going away. Over the past, let's see, year and a half now, we have all been sent home. We've all been figuring out how to work from home. It's been difficult, to say the least, but now we're trying to start to get the hang of it because we realize that employees and and workers and people just don't want to have to go into the office. And this is not about whether or not some people prefer to go into the office or not. The reality is the world is now set up in a way that people have figured out that they can be just as effective from home, and that's important because that will allow companies to access talent globally. That will allow people to have better work life balance, that will allow people to live more comfortably perhaps not spend as much money on rent and cities that they don't want to...

...live in or can't afford. So this is all positive, but when you are working remote and your whole team is working remote, you have to figure out how to effectively manage them. And it's hard because for a lot of people the old management stereo type was you're watching over your employees, you're seeing if they're completing their work, if they're not working or if they're messing around or what not. You can you can physically see it. You can you can see it right in front of you in the office. Now I'm going to make the argument that if that's the way you did manage your employees or your staff and you have to reevaluate how you manage your team as a leader. But I digress. That's not the point. The point is you have to understand how to manage virtually and remotely now, because it's going to be a thing and it's going to stay a thing. So I'm going to walk through a few different points, tactical points, on how to actually manage a team effectively when it's a remote team, and then I also want to just speak about a few leadership lessons that I just sort of touched on a few...

...moments ago. So first let's talk about some tactical points. So we know that remote work is not going away. It's not just a trend, it's here to stay and even before covid nineteen took the world by storm, remote work was already on the rise. So there was studies done by flex jobs and global workplace analytics. They showed that remote work was absolutely booming. As a February two thousand and twenty and estimated four point seven million Americans, or three point four percent of the population, work remotely. Those numbers were already impressive, but when you consider that's a forty four percent increase over the last five years before two thousand and twenty and a ninety one percent increase over the past ten years, it's very clear that remote work is here to stay, and Covid just doubled down on that. Now, if you do have a team that's working remote and you know right before covid they were in the office, there's a good chance or staying remote and you have to figure out how to manage effectively and it can be challenging if you've never done it, especially if you've never set up your company to work remotely before. So here are some of the things that you can do. The first thing that I've always recommended people do is open lines of communication and checkens. Chickens are not check...

INS. To make sure that they're getting their work done. Chickens are to truly just open the lines of communication with your team and make sure that they have a chance to communicate with you, that you have a chance to communicate with them. There is no more water cooler talk, there is no more passing each other in the halls and saying hi and saying how is your weekend? So daily communication is important and you have to make sure that if you do daily Checkens, this is not if you're in sales, is not reviewing your pipeline or your funnel. If you are in another department, this is not doing a daily stand up. Those things are important as well, but you want to make sure that you open lines of communication with your team that isn't always work related. It doesn't have to be long, it can be. It could be a fifteen minute morning stand up where you do anything but talk about work. You talk about anything else is going on in the company. You just riff on whatever. But you're giving people a chance to be heard, you're giving people a chance to voice their opinions and you're giving a...

...people that you're giving people a chance to just have a moment to mention something that's top of mind, something that's troubling them, because you miss that in a remote work environment and if you don't have the time, which is valid, that's a Vali concern. To have live conversations with your team every single day, then at the very least, at the bare minimum, be using a tool like slack to enable casual communication between your team. Second Point is open communication and accessibility. So you want to have daily check INS, disild it open, can hit open communication, but you also want to have a culture that promotes open communication. So before people would walk down the hall stick their heads in your office, they still need a way to do that. And by doing that, they need to know when you're available. As a leader, as a manager, as a bet, as a boss, as a founder of a company, the employees need to know when you're available. So you have to set expectations that if you are in the office, or if you're working from nine hundred and twenty five or from eight to six, if you want to work a couple extra hours, whatever, you're letting them...

...know when you can be reached and when you say you can be reached, you have to do a hundred percent be reachable because you need to let them know and you need to give them permission to be in communication, to contact you, to ask questions, to get an answers in a timely manner. And of course, nobody can be available seven but that means that you are setting expectations as to when you will be available, so when they need you, they know they can count on you to be available, and that's incredibly important. One of the worst experiences that I've ever had in my careers. I had a boss once and he would obviously not do this, which is what I suggest you should do, but he would go as far as to leave his phone off for the majority of the day and only call back if he saw that you would called if he felt like there was something that he had to talk to you about, and he this was in a virtual remote environment. He completely shut himself off from his team whenever they needed him. So if there was something urgent that I needed or I was trying to put out a fire at work, it was radio silence from the person who owned...

...and ran the business. That is the worst possible feeling when you feel like your team, your manager, your leader, is leaving you out to dry. And on the flip side, you're also establishing expectations for when you can be reached, and your employees are as well. So, for example, if you sit down for dinner with your family at six PM at night, your employees should know that you're not reachable seven three hundred and sixty five by phone or by email. Your employees should feel comfortable making you know that if you email them, they don't feel obligated to respond to you at night. They need to shut off, as do you. So what's really important, and what this last tip is encompassing, is that you are establishing clear expectations for when you're on, when people can rely on you to pick up the phone, to answer an email, when you're off, because if you need your team, if they need you, you both need to feel comfortable being able to reach out and expect, or no one to expect, a response. And these things all end up building the fourth point, which is building...

...trust, the most important thing you can possibly do when working virtually all the cultural items, so communication, trust, team work, these things are the first things that go when you remove everyone from the office. So you got a double down on them and you got to work extra hard and you got to action. All these items you have to set daily chickens, you have to focus on open communication and accessibility, you have to establish clear expectations for you and your team, and by doing all these things, you're establishing trust and you're allowing your team to feel psychologically safe in what they're expected to do when they can reach you and vice versa, because that's the one thing that dissipates the quickest when everybody goes home, when everybody works from home. And if you have worked for the same team for years, there's a good chance you already do have trust, and that's okay. But if we're talking about working virtually and working remote, there's going to be a chance and a time when you are going to have to hire someone virtually or somebody remotely and you're...

...not going to have the ability to build rapport and to build trust with them in person. And this is when you need to focus on all the other things that enable that trust and that rapport and a few more things outside of setting check ins to just discuss and communicate, having a policy that's focus on open communication and establishing clear expectations. You also have to give the remote team the chance to succeed. If you are micromanaging them. You either didn't hire the right person or you didn't align their professional goals with the goals of the organization. Is something I'll cover in another episode. But you need to give them the chance to succeed, which means you're not micromanaging them, you're leading by example, you're demonstrating trust in your team, you're assigning them tasks, you're giving them creative control, you're focusing on communication, you're focusing on nonwork communication, you're establishing bonds, you're establishing rapport and by giving them a chance to succeed, avoiding micromanaging, leading by example and focusing on these cultural items, that is how a team truly excels in a virtual environment because, let's...

...face it, we're all facing new and unique challenges. These are unprecedented time. But you can't lose hope because you are somebody that your team looks up to. Or even if you don't have people that report to you and you are working in a virtual or remote environment and you have a manager, a manager may be looking to the team for ideas on how best to manage you. Think about it that way as well. Not Everybody who's your boss always has all the answers. Sometimes it's incumbent on you to figure out how things work and to bring these ideas into an organization so that everything runs a little bit smoother and it makes your life a little bit better. But as you start to establish trust with your team, as your team starts to establish trust with you and with each other, you set clear expectations, you open lines of communication, you will manage and excel as a virtual and remote team. It just takes a little bit of extra effort. But, to be honest, everything I just listed off is stuff that you should have been focusing on anyway. So this brings you back to the point that I said at the beginning. The biggest issue with going virtual or going remote is not going virtual...

...or going remote, it's that it uncovered a lot of bad leadership and bad managers. So now what we have to do is we have to figure out how to be better leaders by doing these things that we should have done in office. Maybe we got away with not doing them, so now is our chance to shine. I hope that help. This has been another ten minute MBA.

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