Donna's Blog

5 Things managers need to understand when leading remote teams.

So many of my middle management clients are now either on a remote/global team or have people reporting to them located in other cities/states/countries.


Whilst its certainly not impossible to manage remote teams well, it does take a little extra effort. Here are a few thoughts to help with remote team management:


1. Meetings.


  • Meetings done remotely generally take twice as long as face to face. Whatever you had planned to cover, halve it.
  • When English is a second language for some participants, you need to take things slow and steady. 



2. Video conferencing.


  • Use PC cameras for 1:1, but not for groups. When everyone is using their cameras for a group meeting, it can become distracting. Any sound coming through the microphone can activate a camera, sometimes making images flash on and off, which can be confusing for participants. 
  • For 1:1 meetings they are a must! Having extra visual data with which to communicate is CRITICAL.



3. Build Relations.


  • Take more time to get to know your remote team members. If you haven’t yet had the chance to meet them face to face (F2F), then you need to spend time over the phone getting to know them. 
  • You may need to facilitate a "getting to know each other" session.
  • Ensure there is dedicated time on team meetings to “check in” personally. It needn’t take long, no more than 5 mins, but each time you do that you are increasing your levels of communication effectiveness and productivity.



4. Be fully present. 

Too often we use virtual or remote meetings as a chance to multi task. In my opinion this is why they are at best half as good as F2F. At least with F2F people can see if you have checked out, whereas you can do it secretly on a remote call. Every time you do this, you are reducing the efficacy of the meeting, and increasing the likelihood of having to meet or discuss the issue again.


5. 1:1s are ESSENTIAL.

Ensure you schedule, and are relentless in having 1:1 meetings with your remote team members. Too often we have an “out of sight, is out of mind” approach or a “they will call me if they have an issue”. Even excluding cross cultural issues, it’s easy for managers to assume no news is good news. Schedule regular catch ups, and DON’T cancel them.


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