Managing a remote team can be challenging as you seek to ensure that the team members remain focused on the organization's vision and mission even as they telecommute. Amid the pandemic, many employees have been forced to work from their homes and managers managing the employees as they telecommute. Here are a few tips to help ensure effectiveness as you manage telecommuting workers.
Establish a clear communication plan
One of the best avenues of ensuring that managing remote workers remains effective is setting up effective communication within the team. You will need to determine the best mode of communication based on the resources at the organization's disposal and the employees working from their homes. Once the method is identified, ensuring that all employees are comfortable with the selected method will be critical. Schedules for when regular communication will be made can then be established and communicated to all employees. This can be based on the needs of the team as well as the objectives teams seek to achieve.
Determine the work the employees can carry out remotely.
Due to the changing environment of working, there could be some tasks that your team members may not be able to accomplish. Reviewing the job descriptions of employees to ensure that they are assigned tasks they can carry out remotely, based on the equipment and resources allocated to them, is key. It's also wise to prioritize the essential and high-impact tasks.
Put in place the right monitoring mechanisms.
While you need to ensure that your employees remain productive even as they telecommute, micromanaging them could give you the opposite effect. Establish clear goals that need to be achieved with every task assigned and identify timelines when progress for the tasks need to be shared. Establishing effective tracking methods that work for the employees could also be helpful to ensure that employees are keeping time. For instance, you could use online collaborative spaces where employees post the work done for reviews and comments within agreed timelines. Then, make yourself available, but trust that your employees will get the job done!
Whether you are a team leader, or entrepreneur, or manager, one things is for sure- you are under the constant pressure of deadlines. However, there's one key step you can always take to make sure that everything on you plate is handled- delegating. Want to know how? Here's our top 5 tips on how to delegate:
1. Learn to let it go
As a manager, one of the hardest transitions to make is being responsible for just your own work to being responsible for the work of others. Often, we want to do things ourselves in order to avoid having to train others or out of fear that they won't do it correctly. However, as a manager, it;s essential that you learn to let it go and trust your team.
2. Establish a priority system
One great way to determine what to delegate is developing a priority system. This can vary based on expertise, your organization, and the type of task involved, but the general principle remains the same. Keep the highest skilled task on your plate, while those with lower skill requirements can be assigned to others. Delegating with this method can save tons of your time and effort, while not having to waste time training staff members on complicated processes.
3. Know your employee's strengths
When you know what each of your employees are excellent at, you can use this knowledge to optimize the quality of work you receive back on your delegated tasks. Is Carol a great writer? Have her tackle that press release for you! Jane is an excel junkie? Let her create the charts you need for a presentation.
4. Always include instructions
Even if the task seems to be simple, make sure that you include instruction with everything you delegate. Be sure to set a firm deadline as well so that the task doesn't get put on the back burner. Include straightforward instructions with a clear due date will help in avoiding the communication gap, and you can get your task done in the way you want. It's a proactive strategy that both you and your employees will appreciate.
5. Trust, but verify
Once you have delegated the task to your employee, let them take it from there. You delegated to get this item off your plate and no one likes a micromanager. However, make sure you let the employee know that you're free to answer questions and offer support as needed. Then, verify the completed work is up to standard when completed and provide any feedback you have so that the employee knows for the future.
Delegating is not an easy task, but it can be an incredible time-saver for any busy manager. Be sure to follow these tips as you improve your delegating process and it's sure to be a load off your plate in the future!
We've all been there. You like your employee. They're a great person, they've got a family to support, but their performance just isn't what it needs to be. As a manager, you need to give them feedback. Like many of us, you may be tempted to try and deliver your feedback in the nicest way possible. However, this actually may do more harm than good!
When managers sugarcoat their feedback, what often happens is that the specifics get lost in the attempt to make your criticism as nice as possible. Employees may leave the conversation confused as to what they need to do or worse- they have no idea they just received a critique! So how do you deliver feedback without losing the message in the niceness? Here's my advice:
1. Be clear and to the point
Make sure you're making the point in crystal-clear language. This may seem harsh, so I like to start with a compliment, then move into the critique. For example, "Ann, I really appreciate your positivity and the energy you bring to our team. However, your sales have been below 20% this past month. What's going on?"
2. Lay out expectations and consequences
Often, managers leave the conversation open-ended without clearly laying out what they need to see going forwards. This puts employees at a huge disadvantage, as they can't reach your goals if they don't know what they are! Say something like "I need to see your sales above 20% by May 1st. Otherwise, we'll need to terminate your employment. Given that, what can I do to support you so we can get your sales back up?"
3. Follow up via email
After the conversation, document what was said in clear terms via email. I like using bullet points for this. State what issue was addressed, what the expectation is (including a deadline), and what you can offer to help them overcome this issue. By sending this email, you make sure that the employee doesn't forget anything that was said during the meeting, especially if emotions were high.
Change is hard. But what may be even harder is managing that change. Managers face a slew of complaints, concerns, and more when changes are implemented. However, it doesn't need to be a nightmare. Here's my secret to addressing the top complaints you'll hear when change is coming and how to avoid headaches down the road.
1. But that's the way we've always done it!
Lord, this complaint is one of my biggest pet peeves. Change is a good thing- otherwise women wouldn't have the right to vote, alcohol would still be illegal, and your cell phone wouldn't exist! While I certainly don't advocate change simply for change's own sake, it's important to grow and develop to avoid becoming obsolete. When met with this objection, I like to make sure that I'm being completely transparent about why the change is taking place. Many employees may not normally be given the reason for change- they're just told that change is happening, end of story. By explaining the reasoning, you allow them to become invested in the change and see the benefits, especially ways that the change will benefit them as employees. Now, some employees will dig their heels in just for the sake of being contrary. However, for most reasonable employees, if the change is soundly based in logic, simply explaining why can be enough to dispel this objection.
2. We don't have time for that
Often, implementing change involves a workload that's higher than normal. However, any good project manager will have a plan in place to address this. Determine what projects or tasks may need to be pushed back to accommodate this. Get feedback from your team members so that you can make them feel valued and get a realistic understanding of how the change will affect their workload. Consider bringing in a temp during the transitional period. Then, communicate this all to your team upfront.
3. We tried that before and it didn't work
For long-time employees, this can be a common and reasonable concern. If they've seen time wasted on an initiative in the past, why why it be any different this time? This is why its important that prior to implement change you look at the history of the organization and get feedback from employees. If its been a failed attempt in the past, why did it fail? What are you going to do that's different? Then, communicate this to your staff up front.
Seeing a theme here? The best way to avoid objection and push back is clear and early communicate. By gathering feedback from your staff, they feel invested in the success of the project. Addressing their objections up front allows you to both get their buy in and address any roadblocks that you may have not anticipated.
Now, go forth and make that change happen!
If there's one thing I always tell new employees, it's this: documenting is your best friend.
Have a problem employee? Documenting from day 1 can take letting them go that much easier. Employee does amazing work and tackles multiple projects with ease? If you write it down, performance reviews will be a breeze and you won't risk forgetting important accomplishments. Alternatively, if performance wasn't up to par, documenting can make your evaluation objective and fair. Want to stay on top of all the projects your team is on? Document with project management software, emails, or even a giant whiteboard behind your desk! When in doubt, document.
To demonstrate, let me share the story of the first person I ever fired. When I was promoted, I started creating performance metrics for all of my staff. I wanted to make sure that I was objective in my evaluations of staff and could keep an eye on their performance. To my surprise, I discovered that one employee had done no work in the past 8 years. Absolutely zero- his job was to delete records and none had been deleted in 8 years. I was flabbergasted.
Had this been caught in his first year on the job, perhaps he could have been retrained. However, because I caught it so late and previous conversations with supervisors were not documented, I had to start from scratch and go through the process of a PIP. Moral of the story, document from day one. Don't let problems marinade for years before taking action. By recording issues from the day they start, you can help to catch issues early and make your job easier in the long run.
Is there a time you wish you had documented? Share below!
You know what one of the quickest ways to kill morale in the workplace is? Micromanaging your employees. When managers clock-watch, micromanage, and aren't flexible, it makes employees feel undervalued and can kill morale and retention. So what can you do? Here are my top three tips!
1. Be Flexible
Ultimately, your employees have lives outside of work. Kids get sick, emergencies happen, and sometimes 9-5 isn't possible for a day. By allowing your employees to work from home, come in later, or leave a little early, you can give them a benefit that they'll value just as much as a raise or great health insurance. For many, flexibility when needed is invaluable and a higher-paying job may not be worth leaving over. If you're able to offer it, make flexibility a priority for your team.
2. Don't Clock-Watch
There's nothing more demoralizing than being told that you're 5 minutes late returning for lunch when you've been putting in 50 hour work weeks. Unless it's truly egregious, avoid the temptation to clock your employees. Of course, with hourly employees, you need to be more mindful and pay them for all hours worked. However, as a general rule, 5 minutes is not worth demoralizing your team over.
3. Trust Their Expertise
You hired your staff for a reason. Micromanaging is one of the biggest complaints I hear from employees. While you should check work, you don't need to breathe over your employee's shoulders. In addition, nothing empowers your staff more than allowing them to make decisions. Do you really need to sign off on every waived fine? Think about what you can do to empower your staff and show your confidence in them. It'll take a load off your plate and help keep your staff morale high!
Have you ever felt micromanaged at work? What do you wish your employer had done instead? Comment below!
We've all been there. You're stuck in a never-ending meeting that could have been a quick email. Yet here you are, wasting valuable minutes, itching to get back to your desk and tackle he 50 other things on your plate for today. So why do meetings suck so much? The simple answer is most managers don't know how to run them. Here's my advice on how to make your meetings pain-free and run smoothly.
1. Could This Be an Email?
Before you schedule a meeting, ask yourself if it's truly necessary. Could this be a quick email or phone call instead? When you bring everyone into a room, inevitably it is less efficient than if they are in their own space with their resources to answer questions. Make sure a meeting is truly necessary before you schedule it.
2. Send the Agenda Early
Your meeting will be far more productive if key team members can gather the material they need ahead of time. For others, like most of us introvert, we need time to think before answering questions or solving problems. Send out a detailed agenda ahead of time with exactly what will be discussed and notes on any preparation attendees need to come prepared with.
3. Set a Timer
There's nothing that can make a meeting drag on more than a lack of urgency. Set a time limit, ideally on the agenda. This will encourage concise communication and ensure you don't end up talking in circles around the same issue. Designate a timekeeper for the meeting to make sure you stay on track. I always present this as me trying to respect everyone's time, not cut them off, and it tends to go over well!
We all know meetings can sometimes be a train wreck. But by following these three easy tips, yo can ensure those you lead run smoothly and are efficient use of time!
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