Leading our Remote Team to Success
Adam Tully – Better Talent
Over the next few months, I will dive into what everyone wants to know about leading and motivating a remote team to reach your company’s goals. And let’s be real–it’s really freaking hard.
Creating a fun, motivating, and collaborative environment over Zoom is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to require spending a ton of money on tech to get it done.
At Better Talent, all we do is help companies find and optimize the best talent, so we have an extensive amount of real-world experience to share about how successful companies attract and retain remote teams that are productive, happy, and purposeful.
How do I lead a remote team to success?
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, building and leading a remote team has become a viable, even necessary, way forward for success. More and more employees are interested in a work-life balance that includes the flexibility that comes along with accepting a remote position. That desire, paired with many organizations transitioning to remote or hybrid work models during the pandemic, has made it increasingly crucial for leaders like yourself to learn how to adapt and thrive in this new environment. Many CEOs report maintaining a remote work culture as a considerable obstacle
In my role as an Integrator and COO at Better Talent with a fully remote team, I’m
learning daily to master the intricate art of managing distributed teams effectively, I want to share my experience and empathetic, authoritative approach to help guide you in unlocking the true potential of building a remote team.
It isn’t exactly a walk in the park to navigate the wonderful new world of remote work. But it is something that can be beneficial to your brand – even enjoyable, offering a new level of flexibility and removing everyday stresses like long commutes or nagging company overhead expenses that come with having employees report to an office building.
That being said, many leaders fear jumping into establishing a remote team because the thought of Zoom meetings and Slack updates can feel overwhelming. But, there are specific steps you can take toward creating an effective working relationship with your geographically distributed employees without the overwhelm of notifications and video calls dominating your day.
I love reading books, and one book that’s significantly impacted me is Remote Leadership By David Pachter. He says, “Leaders’ need for meaningful, deep connections with their teams has never been greater.”
He also wrote, “ For most of the history of American business, trust, connection, and culture weren’t regarded as mission-critical.”
I completely agree with David that the focus needs to shift to building deep relationships with our teams.
The remote leader needs to let go of a lot of control of their team and trust their team is getting stuff done every day. We should hold our team accountable to metrics, of course, but if we are hiring the right people and putting them in the right seat, they should be able to be successful with us coaching them more than “managing” them.
I want to help take the mystery and stress out of creating your remote team so that no matter the physical distance between you and your team, you can still reap the benefits of a collaborative and creative environment and lead your team to success.
My goal in this article is to cover 4 points about
- A remote leader is a different type of leader, an authentic leader
- Establish clear communication guidelines
- Set goals and expectations for remote teams
- And, of course, how to hire a team remotely
A remote leader is a different type of leader, an authentic leader
Naturally, we all want to be part of organizations where we feel like we are part of a team and are all rowing together in the direction of a big vision. We also want to be surrounded by people we can trust. Building that kind of culture as a remote team leader is not that easy – it’s actually really hard. It requires a new type of leadership—one of transparency and accountability but, most importantly, vulnerability. Being authentic and real with your team is what will make the biggest difference.
Let’s be honest; we all want deep relationships where we can trust one another. If there is no trust, all we have is a superficial relationship. Our teammates also have the same desires, and as the team leader, it needs to be prioritized.=
So how do we build deep relationships?
We build them with transparency and vulnerability. Being “real” with our team involves being an authentic leader. I understand that there’s a fear that you may lose your team’s respect if you’re truly authentic. But holding on to that fear is what holds so many of us back from forming deep relationships with our teams. As a remote team, we do not have the opportunity to hang out in the break room to see how the team is doing, get to know each other and be “Real,” and then observe how quickly that fosters a more collaborative environment.
But here is the interesting thing, when you have a team that truly trusts you as a leader, your team will do amazing things. They will lead your organization to success.
Here is a list of proven leadership tips for remote teams:
- Stay humble and put your team first every day.
- Spend time weekly to focus on the relationship. Even if you spend a few minutes per week with your team, being real can be a game changer.
- The first call you have weekly with each team member, ask about their weekend.
- Bringing some humor into the conversation makes a big difference. The little things matter a lot.
- Be transparent, share things happening in your life, and do not hide that you are human 🙂
- Love your team and be sincere with them in your coaching.
- When an adjustment needs to be made, be empathetic and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes empathy means being direct and honest about what needs to be changed. Sometimes it is what they want to hear most because they know where the change needs to take place.
- Every team member is different, and treating each team member how they need to be treated is not always easy, but it is key to having a successful team.
Establish clear communication guidelines.
The significance of establishing clear communication guidelines cannot be overstated. As an empathetic leader, I understand communication’s vital role in personal and professional healthy relationships. By setting up consistent guidelines, we can minimize misunderstandings, create a positive atmosphere for collaboration, and ultimately enhance productivity. As you try to find your way through the tangled web of modern communication with text messages, emails, and video calls, remember that some humor and genuine interest in your team members can go a long way in breaking the ice and making connections more enjoyable.
Here are several practical ideas:
- Establish a weekly 1:1 check-in with your remote workers. Even if it’s 15 minutes long, it’s powerful. I enjoy meeting my team members at the beginning of the week to get the week started and set clear expectations.
- Stick to using email or one mode of communication if you’re worried about having multiple messaging platforms to manage.
- Learn the personality of each team member and how they like to be communicated with.
- Be flexible enough to change modes of communication when change is needed. Always remember that flexibility and consistency are equally important when leading a remote team.
- Use project management software like Asana to keep track of tasks and keep all communication between team members in one place.
- If you are a remote COO like myself, Create a “Same Page” meeting with your CEO weekly to ensure you are both caught up on the weekly happenings.
- Have weekly team meeting calls where collaboration is welcomed. Create a place where you can have fun with your team, and everyone’s voice can be heard.
Set goals and expectations for remote teams
As remote work evolves, setting clear goals with KPIs and expectations for your team is one of the most critical steps to measuring your team’s success.
I recommend leading by example with the importance of open communication and transparency to ensure that your team regularly updates one another and makes good use of all available tools, whether that’s your Project Management Software or (call me old school) – the use of the telephone. As a leader in this landscape, positioning yourself as a coach rather than a micromanager can go a long way in fostering the type of enviable communication that creative teams with a high level of productivity possess.
Weekly team meeting calls are vital for staying in contact. We use this time to review expectations and allow team members to ask questions or share any ideas they’ve had. The culture we’ve established is one where we’re constantly refining our processes with the understanding that it’s all a work in progress and adjustments along the way are welcome. Having an open line of communication and allowing space for creative thinking fosters a sense of collaboration you may worry about losing in a remote environment, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s very important to give your team members the autonomy to laser-focus on their tasks and have their voices heard when it comes to deadlines and expectations.
Depending on each team member’s personality, you will have staff that works best when they’re free to finish their work without being micromanaged. In contrast, other staff will thrive with more contact, accountability, and concrete deadlines to keep them on track. With remote work, it can be challenging to monitor the hour-by-hour activity of your staff (and I’m sure that’s not something you want to worry about anyways), so it’s advisable to focus more on the individual outcomes rather than focus on their execution.
Here are some practices that can make goal-setting a breeze:
- Work together with your team to set clear KPIs that make it easy to see what success looks like. As a remote team leader, KPIs are the way to easily hold your team accountable with metrics that matter the most. We love using Google Sheets to track metrics.
- Have 1 software that keeps track of tasks for all team members. We love Asana at Better Talent.
- During weekly 1:1 meetings, set clear expectations and goals for the week.
- Once per month, evaluate how things are going with each team member and then update each team member and get on the same page. Everyone appreciates knowing where they are at and how they can improve to continue their success.
- Make sure to prioritize annual reviews with each team member and have an agenda that allows for your time to evaluate progress.
- Always ask the team member to share their thought on how they can improve and potentially how you can improve as a team member 🙂
- If there is a time when there is an adjustment that needs to be made, make sure to address it quickly, ideally within 24 hours.
Our talent acquisition process at Better Talent includes a behavioral and personality assessment that enables us to gain insight into these individual attributes and is proven to help you lead your team effectively as well as make sure your new hires fit into the culture of the organization you’re building.
That leads us to the most crucial part of leading a remote team – hiring the right
How to hire a team remotely
Effectively hiring a distributed team can be a big job because there are so many options and capacities. Teams are no longer solely built by full-time employees but can be made up of freelancers and contractors, part-time staff, and consultants.
Here are some great ways to identify and hire remote team members:
- Network on platforms like LinkedIn. These great resources allow you to speak directly with potential remote team members or to receive trusted recommendations from people in your industry or related fields.
- Conduct virtual interviews that are more of a discovery call where you can get a sense of the individual, their work environment, and their experience and track record working remotely.
- Don’t forget to ask about their expectations and be curious enough to discover what they’re looking for in a remote position. This will help you decide whether they’ll be a good fit.
- At Better Talent, we take talent acquisition a step further by assisting hiring managers with creating a complete hiring strategy, developing their job listings, and using tools to match the right personalities with the right position. This will help you hire faster, lower costs, and find better talent.
- Get creative with your benefits. Yes, remote full-time or part-time staff are interested in the traditional benefits of paid time off and health insurance.
- Allowing your employees to set their own hours with flexible schedules can go a long way in broadening your hiring pool.
You can do this
I’ll be straight with you, being a remote team manager isn’t without its challenges, but you can set your team up for success with careful planning and focus. If your leadership style is to be the “Captain” and you’re inclined to take innovative risks, then use those skills in your leadership role to motivate and help the individuals you are guiding.
If your leadership style is more of a “Maverick,” lean into that skill set, use your natural determination to think outside the box, and give your team the space to do the same. And lastly, if you’re the persuasive type, leverage your communication tools to enhance the trust and relationships between time zones.
When you maximize your strengths, you’ll be able to optimize your team’s strengths and lead a more productive and happy workforce.
If this article has inspired you to learn more about how to build a great remote team culture or hire remotely, stay connected for subsequent articles on this topic. And, if you’re looking for personalized guidance from an experienced COO/Integrator and team builder like myself, book a call today.
Together we’ll explore which hiring solutions best fit your needs and develop an effective hiring strategy tailored specifically to your organization’s success.
Schedule today – we’re here to help you hire faster, lower costs, and find better talent. https://bettertalent.com/contact/