Managers have a lot on their plates these days, and when it’s a remote team that they manage, they have to be adroit at juggling their time. Here are a few examples of what’s required of them:
10 Vital Requirements to Manage Remote Care Teams
Authority and the casual contact
Managers who rise to a certain level of authority are chosen for their responsibilities because they are leaders: resourceful, charismatic, focused and, in particular, trusted with keeping team productivity high. They are gifted at building relationships, and although the natural inclination would be for managers to establish formats that protect them from too much exposure to team members, one of the requirements of those relationships has to be to section off time for impromptu chats, i.e. calls made to be friendly with team members, see how they’re doing and just for shooting the breeze. These spontaneous calls permit the worker to vent off on some matter or other and, at the very least, to feel appreciated and part of something bigger than themselves.
Limits and off limits
Of concern is how managers choose to structure communication channels between team members and themselves and, at the core, how much of their personal time to give to others and in what ways. Part of the time-management effort that governs the relation of a manager with remote workers is recognition, acceptance and respect for the fact that managers “have a life”, and that it includes a family, work, a passionate hobby (reading, golf, etc.) and going out with friends. Therefore, set processes and schedules have to be established.
You must set certain boundaries if you don’t want to receive calls in the middle of the night on regular basis
Soft or hard tactics
Managers choose different tactics in wielding their influence. For example, soft or hard tactics may be required, depending on whether they absolutely must have a result or they can leave the other person with some maneuvering room. When it comes to sacrificing privacy and managing their availability, their prime concern is the isolation factor of working from home, and the loneliness that one of their team members may be going through. Managers thus become a replacement for the entire office staff in more conventional office settings. If they’re not available to listen to someone who’s down and needing to talk, they may lose a valuable team member.
When necessary, managers can switch from soft tactics to additional assertiveness and a harder posture. In fact, in their quest to influence team members, managers have at their disposal a slew of tactics from inspirational, consultation, rational and assertive or hard. In adopting the soft approach of having rules that can at times be broken, managers can set aside a period of the day when they are available not for a formal video conference, which would be the more conventional method for “meetings”, but for one-on-one calls initiated by team members. Check the following video for valuable tips about assertiveness:
Be smart, not tough
At the back of a manager’s thinking invariably lurks the degree of strain that he or she can put on a particular relationship –an easy line to cross. Of prime consideration in that context is the turnover factor, dreaded for its gobbling up of managerial time and resources. Time management becomes much easier once there is an understanding at the level of setting up communication priorities and mechanisms, good for most routine needs. Together with the caveat that people can make the occasional exception, this should be looked upon not as a detriment but as a series of disciplines that everyone can benefit from. Managers can thus also encourage team members to seek balance in their lives in part by enjoying their own version of “signing off” outside of work time.
Today’s managers are at times also asked to exert their influence internationally. With the ever-growing number of multinational corporations that have licensing arrangements and subsidiaries in far-off places, there is a lot to be said for a manager trying to keep tabs over a dozen work-at-home co-workers on different continents. Beyond overcoming all the other issues that often act as barriers to good team productivity, managers have to show they can rise above language, time zone and cultural hurdles and be able to keep someone in Tokyo or Hong Kong motivated. But even in cases like that, it is important that proper communication channels be set, including video conferencing and the broad use of Skype and similar services. Needless to say, however, managers have to make themselves available in manners that they would normally prefer to avoid, such as middle of the night and weekend calls for what a team member might perceive as being a call that cannot wait.
With the rise of international virtual teams like that, managers who may never have met these distant workers and who may not have official authority over them, have had to sharpen their skills in the fields of building rapports, influencing others, persuading, negotiating, networking, using “command-style” methods to assert their leadership and preempt obstacles. On the softer side is a human being, sitting at his or her home thousands of miles away, who has more or less the same needs as the nearby worker, as remote as they are from the camaraderie that warms relations between staff members at the head office. Here is a short video that gives you an idea of how to be a good leader.
Catching a small fire before it becomes big
Most significantly, great managers are great because they’re good at keeping the spirit high amidst their ranks. When morale is in the dumps, up goes employee turnover and down goes the team’s overall productivity. Even when a team is purring efficiently, this is never far from a manager’s mind. In addition, great managers intuitively sense when something is not right with one or more team members. By making themselves instantly available, this mindfulness enables a manager to catch a small fire before it becomes big.
Scouting for talent
Like sports scouts, managers may also often be trying to locate and recruit new individuals. Being in charge of a remote workforce allows them the luxury of finding people with precisely the talent and strengths that are needed not just from nearby places but from distant places as well. When that happens however, they have to provide time in spades for mentoring, coaching, taking the new recruit to the head office, and seeing them through their formal training. Once on the job, they then have to hold the new hire’s hands through the initial post-training period, a set of activities that can play havoc with the manager’s ongoing availability arrangements with the rest of the team.
To sum up
A word to managers and would-be team leaders: bring out your personality and let it flourish, the one that radiates with self-compassion and empathy for others. Communication arrangements are fine, and so are policies and procedures, but at the end of the day, your team members will work extra hard if they view you as a natural leader, with not an ounce of fake.
Finally these are 4 types of behavior you should never see in a manager: