Brookeside's Mastering Remote Management Guide
Are you a remote manager or team lead?
Do you want to grow or improve your remote management skills?
Here at The Brookeside Group, we're experts at remote management and have a simple method that you can follow in order to master remote management. We invite both new and experienced remote managers to better their skills and knowledge to set their teams up for success. Read along today and stay tuned for our free Mastering Remote Management mini-course coming soon.
We will follow The Brookeside Group’s Coaching Model, diving into each step:
1. Setting Clear Expectations
2. Providing Ongoing Feedback
3. Assessing Performance
4. Developing a Trusting Relationship
1. Setting Clear Expectations Remotely
Remote managers need to set clear expectations to ensure clarity and provide the opportunity for direct reports to stretch and grow. Achievement with clear expectations can help your employees feel proud, receiving recognition for their hard work.
First, you need to plan. Can you describe the desired outcome you want your direct report to achieve? What does success look like and how will you measure it? What level of accountability will you expect from your employees? You want to make sure your direct report can complete this sentence: “I will know I have successfully completed this task when…”
Second, you need to determine what kind of technology is appropriate for communicating this expectation. This depends on both the direct report’s experience and the complexity of the task. This matrix is a reference point to help emphasize that you must be purposeful in deciding how you will communicate:
Make sure that you are facilitating a conversation rather than giving a lecture. During your conversation, you need to confirm that your direct report has a clear understanding of your expectations. Ask them to share their understanding of your expectations. Ensure you establish a timetable for periodic check-ins around these expectations, including what technology you’ll use for those check-ins. Additionally, be transparent about your availability and schedule.
Remember that true management happens when you’re not around, especially in a remote setting. By setting clear expectations, and navigating the remote setting with communication and transparency, you are providing a clear path forward to providing feedback.
2. Providing Ongoing Remote Feedback
Your goal should always be to provide timely, frequent feedback. Be honest, specific, and direct in order to avoid confusion, especially given remote communication challenges. Like when setting clear expectations, be very deliberate in your selection of communication mediums.
Try to provide concrete feedback based on specific examples of their behavior. Offer feedback on the performance, not the person. Focus on actions and behaviors, not character, attitude, or personality. Also, ensure you are being culturally sensitive.
Virtual conflict can be a challenge of remote management and feedback. We use our Head, Heart, Hands model to assess root cause. This will be something we address in our Mastering Remote Management mini-course.
As a manager, you have the responsibility to provide ongoing feedback and coaching. If you fail to do so, you are not only missing out on the opportunity to help your team members achieve success, but you are also setting yourself up for a very difficult conversation when it comes time to assess performance.
3. Assessing Remote Performance
Assessing performance is important because recognition and appreciation can fuel productivity and success. Or, in the case of poor performers, it’s your opportunity to put plans in place to correct inadequate behavior. Again, the communication medium matters in a remote workspace. We suggest using video to conduct remote performance assessments.
If you have done your job of setting clear, remote expectations, it’s obvious what you should expect from your team members. If you’ve provided appropriate feedback along the way, then assessing performance will be no surprise to you or the team member.
Assessing performance is often a positive event, resulting in recognition for a job well done. Recognition is never more important than in a remote relationship. The way that you recognize your employees is important. Everyone wants to be recognized differently. Some prefer private praise, while others prefer public praise, and in order for the recognition to achieve the desired goal, it needs to be individualized. Find out what works for your direct reports and offer recognition accordingly.
4. Building Trust Remotely
The cornerstone of developing and maintaining effective relationships is a foundation of trust. Yet, trust is an elusive topic. While you intuitively know how important it is, how do you ‘do’ trust? And how do you ‘do’ it remotely? Your team members will not trust you until you demonstrate that you trust them. We have identified seven trust builders over our years of developing successful coaches and leaders.
Your people will trust you if they feel you are there to support them. Check-in constantly, work alongside them and have their back when they take risks. Supportive relationships exist not just between manager and team members, but also between the team members themselves. As a manager, you need to encourage team members to constantly communicate. Create an environment where team members feel comfortable reaching out to each other and to you.
Listen to and act upon your employees’ suggestions. Research shows that the single most important demonstration of respect lies in the delegation of meaningful and important work. These responsibilities need to be achievable, and within the capabilities of your people, but the more you reasonably stretch them and delegate challenging tasks and projects, the more your people will recognize that this communicates respect.
To build a foundation of trust, your team needs to be confident that you will treat them fairly. Be aware of how your team members might interpret your actions and decisions, especially in a remote environment. The more you understand your people, the better positioned you will be to communicate the “why” effectively and avoid any impression of unfairness.
It is important that your people know how you will react, especially when circumstances are challenging. The more you can provide consistent and predictable reactions, the more likely you are to foster trust and transparent communication from your team.
As the manager, do not need to be the expert in every instance. Encourage team members to reach out to one another for problem-solving but also make yourself available and be ready to help if needed. Competence is especially important when things get difficult. You want your team to trust that you can provide the necessary support to help them accomplish challenging objectives.
6. Effective Communication.
Be honest and transparent with your employees, and always assume that you can be communicating more. Effective communication is the backbone of successfully setting clear expectations, providing ongoing feedback, and assessing performance.
Your people do not expect perfection, it is okay to make mistakes. In fact, research shows that demonstrating personal vulnerability is one of the most powerful trust builders. You don’t need to make a mistake purposefully, just be able to admit it when it happens. In addition to building trust, being personally vulnerable sets a great example for your team of how you would expect them to behave in a similar circumstance.