Blog — COVID-19 — Management Skills

How to Manage a Remote Team Effectively

Iain Robertson
Iain Robertson
Head of Consultancy
How to Manage a Remote Team Effectively

 

  THE IDG BLOG    

How to Manage Remote Teams Effectively

As more and more of us will be working remotely over the coming weeks, I thought it would be valuable to identify of a few key lessons that help remote or virtual teams be as effective as possible. These are particularly important where the members of the virtual team are not used to working remotely – which will be many people.

All the research (eg Chatfield et al, 2014) tells us that the challenges of traditional, face-to-face teams also exist with virtual teams – along with a few extras thrown in. In summary, however, our experience is that making virtual teams work well requires specific focus on the following four things:

Effective communication

Virtual teams need more explicit communication than traditional teams – partly because traditional teams have the benefit of all the non-verbal information available, and partly because all the challenges of communication are magnified by distance, time and the slower pace of information transfer. To that end leaders should not be afraid to state the obvious – because that way everybody knows the same obvious. Followers should also be willing to ask “stupid” questions since in a virtual team the more information the better – particularly in a virtual team that is new and still finding its way.

Trust

We all need to trust people to be able to work with them effectively – and in virtual teams, trust is a key determinant of whether members are more likely to compete with each other or collaborate. Early in the life of a team, leaders should be looking to establish “quick trust” which is dependent on the following:

  • Competence (showing team members how good their colleagues are at their jobs),
  • Reciprocity (trusting your team as you expect them to trust you),
  • Integrity (by keeping your promises – and insisting others keep theirs), and
  • Openness (see knowledge sharing below).
Interpersonal skills

In addition to the broader need for communication noted above, leaders of virtual teams need to adjust their leadership style to account for the remote (and often isolated) location of team members. In particular, it is clear that whilst the performance of virtual teams depends even more than normal on ongoing feedback from the leader, they also depend on that leader adopting a collaborative and co-ordinating approach rather than a controlling one. To that end both leaders and followers should communicate little and often and aim for a peer-to-peer relationship where possible.

Knowledge sharing

Maintaining mutual knowledge is a core challenge for virtual teams. Even where information is hosted centrally via a shared IT resource, it is easy for virtual teams to lose important contextual cues or to misinterpret the importance of different pieces of information. Even something as simple as silence can be challenging – does no response mean “yes”, “no”, or “I haven’t even seen this yet”? To deal with these challenges, teams need to establish clear ground rules and ways of working – using the collaborative approach referenced above – so that both leaders and followers can be sure that everyone is on the same page.

It is clear that each of these four elements depends on the and influences the others. Leadership and followership actions do not exist in a vacuum – even though it may feel like that to colleagues working remotely for the first time. Therefore the key advice is: communicate clearly, communicate often, and trust your team to come through this.

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you.

[wpforms id=”215160″]


info@inspirationaldg.com

London Office: +44 (0) 207 798 2842

RMAS Office: +44 (0) 1276 686644

India Office: +91 955 271 5800

Oman Office: +968 2439 1942

Dubai Office: +971 5055 08482

South Africa Office: +27 21 830 5331

Our Policies

Please visit our Policy Centre to read our policies on Privacy, GDPR, Corporate Social Responsibility and Anti-bribery and Corruption.

Learn More

Search Our Site

Contact Us

Please complete the form below to get in touch.

Alternatively, you can email or call our London, Sandhurst, India, Oman or Dubai offices direct using the buttons below the form.

[wpforms id=”215160″]

Policy Centre

Please visit our Policy Centre to read our policies on Privacy, GDPR, Corporate Social Responsibility and Anti-bribery and Corruption.

Search Our Site

Find Out More

Related articles

The 5 Key Elements of Workplace Wellness

7 mins

blog, management-skills

The 5 Key Elements of Workplace Wellness

What do you picture when you think of the individual words in turn? Where is the ‘workplace’ going to be for many… and what do we mean by ‘wellness’ – or it’s alter ego ‘wellbeing’? And will it be different again before too long? Let’s consider it for a moment.

Read More
The New Leaders: why greater trust means leaders must change their mindset

3 mins

blog, leadership-development

The New Leaders: why greater trust means leaders must change their mindset

Post-panedemic, trust is more important now - and prevalent - than ever. And that means leaders must re-evaluate their skillset...

Read More
The Heart of Performance: Why Relationships Are Key to Leading in a Crisis

5 mins

blog, covid-19-crisis, leadership-development

The Heart of Performance: Why Relationships Are Key to Leading in a Crisis

Some may view the subject as toughy-feely or just a HR term, but Relationships are crucial to effectiveness and performance - and particualrly now in our post-pandemic world.

Read More
  • IDG UK

    Royal Berkshire Hotel
    London Road
    Ascot
    SL5 0PP
    UK
    +44 (0) 207 798 2848

  • IDG India

    Tower 2, Montreal Business Center
    Baner Road
    Pune
    411045
    India
    +91 955 271 5800

  • IDG Oman

    PO Box 1982, P.C. 111
    Maktabi 1 Building,
    Al Khuwair
    Muscat
    The Sultanate of Oman
    +968 2439 1942

  • IDG UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait & Iraq

    5th Floor
    One JLT
    Dubai
    UAE
    +971 56896 4262
    +971 50550 8482

  • IDG South Africa

    Teneo House
    Central Park
    Esplanade Road
    Century City,
    Cape Town, ZA
    +27 (0) 21 492 7300

Get in touch

There are many ways to contact us. Select an option below to get started.