It can often be a challenge to connect with remote teams, and it can be even tougher to build relationships when everyone is not together. While the distances between your people and yourself may seem like a distraction, you have the power as a leader to bring the relationship to a new level through your effort and continued positive involvement.
Remote Workers are Regular Employees
One of the biggest misconceptions about managing remote workers is that it requires an entirely different skill set. In the article, "How to Manage Remote Direct Reports" by Harvard Business Review, there is a quote from Mark Mortensen, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD that states "We have a tendency to overcompensate and approach remote workers and virtual teams as these mythical beasts. But you shouldn't think about them in a fundamentally different way. They are still people working in an organization to get stuff done. Treat them as such."
Making to sure to not overcomplicate management for your remote workers will help you to see they are just ordinary workers like anyone else in your company. Understanding the differences, however, will show you what you need to do to reach them more effectively. Putting extra effort to create and enable that creative and accepting culture for the remote workers on your team will bring those workers better into the fold of your business and help create an air of positivity in your organization.
Communication is Key
Building rapport with your team, communicating new ideas or directives to them, and keeping people on track through feedback are just a few ways you can use communication to your advantage. Today's day and age of the internet and the ability to connect via video, telephone, or email can allow you to reach your remote workers and ensure they feel like a part of the team.
Set up video calls or meetings with your people consistently. Call them up to chat about things beyond just work to build that rapport. Nobody likes to talk about work all day and showing that you care about them beyond just the job can help you grow the relationship.
Deliver Consistent Feedback and Keep your meetings
One on one meetings are an essential way to deliver feedback timely and making sure to set up regular feedback sessions will allow you to keep ahead of issues and stay informed of what your people are doing. You must make sure to keep your meetings and reschedule only when you absolutely must. The continued cancellation of one on ones or feedback sessions can create resentment and can isolate the team member into a thought process of "My time doesn't matter" when referring to their leadership.
Don't make meetings and set standards that even yourself cannot adhere within. This created expectation will have a negative connotation associated with it and with feedback that can cause a mindset with leadership meetings that can be difficult to change once it has become the norm within your company's culture.
These are just a few ways to keep your Remote employees engaged and ensure they continue to feel part of the team, even when working in their own homes. Communication, Consistency, and Care can help you create an environment and culture that reaches beyond physical limitations to bring you and your team together.