It was certainly a lot easier to manage a team when they all worked from one or two offices, as was the norm only 10-15 years ago. But times have changed, and as the lines between work and home increasingly blur, managers have found themselves with new skills to learn and new approaches to consider. But how easy is it to adapt to new ways of working with remote teams? We’ll discuss three of the best ways to become an effective manager of an agile workforce.
Get creative with motivation
No longer can companies rely on office-based perks to keep their staff happy, as no one is turning up to staff night-out if they are in a different timezone. Managers must find new and engaging ways to motivate their team, and the key to doing this is using the technology available to you. Try regular video meetings to maintain a more personal approach and it’s especially important to learn what makes each individual tick, if they are not in the same office as you day to day. Some workers may prefer to be thanked and applauded quietly by email, whereas others may prefer to compete for awards against each other, from target based tasks.
Get used to it feeling strange
It’s likely, as a manager, this way of working isn’t the norm to you, and that’s ok. We’re all learning and adapting as we go, so recognise that you don’t have all the answers and be honest when you need support from senior staff or indeed your team. A manager who admits they don’t know everything, will be far more respected than one who goes ahead and makes mistakes as a result. Working with an agile team means learning new habits. Not relying on being able to pull someone for a quick chat and instead planning ahead, is just one of the big changes you’ll need to get used to.
Be crystal clear with communication
“If communication is king in an agile workforce, clarity is queen” We love a cliché quote as much as the next marketing team, but this one has a great point. Clarity is key to managing a remote team. You want to feel like you’re doing a great job and getting the best from your staff, and your team need to feel part of the company and valued, even thought they aren’t physically there. You can do this first of all by trusting them. Once they feel trusted, set clear expectations and deliverables. They shouldn’t be beyond anything asked of office-based staff, it’s important to keep the two aligned. Leave no room for misinterpretation, and this is easier than you think as you tend to use communication methods such as Slack or email with remote teams, meaning there is always a record of what’s been said, should you need it.
You can take inspiration from one of the biggest companies in the world, managing a global agile workforce. Google have studied the productivity of their team and found no difference between them and office based staff. So there’s no reason you can’t lead the next success story of this kind.
If you liked this post, why not read: Four predictions for the future of the freelance workforce