Managing a Remote Workforce
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
The keys to managing a remote workforce boil down to 4 simple things that pack a big punch:
By combining these pillars, you will increase your team productivity, level of trust in doing the job, and employee happiness/retention for being a part of a dynamic team that is built on communication and driving predictable success. Let's break down each of these to create a plan on providing support to our loyal team.
Communication is the backbone of any team. Without it, projects would miss budget restraints, extend deadlines, and cause stress amongst the company and clients. When working remotely, communication needs to be amplified. Gone are the days of monthly day long meetings that require a Herculean effort to get scheduled.
Today, we need fast action to keep up with the ever changing environment.
By scheduling daily huddles you can get everyone there and planned for in advance, minimize the time it takes to conduct the meeting, and have more communication than you ever had before answering their wins and challenges. Keep these daily meetings to no more than 30 minutes, 10-15 being ideal. They will be longer when you first start and get into the groove but after 30 days you'll be ready to be done after 10 minutes. We also want to keep these meetings consistent and predictable so that every gets aligned in their goals for the day/week and are working together to achieve them. Last, we want to proactively plan for these meetings to be sure that you get out all of the information you want in such a short time to keep it focused on being productive and motivating the team.
Processes work best when they are clearly defined and written for everyone to have fast access. By documenting your systems you teach your team to be systematic in their approach to challenges instead of reacting emotionally.
The trick is keeping these documents updated, so be sure to assign someone on the team to be the subject matter expert and have the responsibility of keeping it up to date for everyone.
When you get the process honed, your responsibility of being the manager is to be sure the process is followed. Plan your spot checks in advance and unpredictably on the calendar. I always liked doing these 2x a month per department to keep them on their toes.
Now that we have our team communication and processes aligned, we need to support them with technology platforms to fast track their productivity. By providing tech platforms, you can help more clients in less time making a larger profit. The first piece you need is a video chat platform for your internal and external meetings. Zoom, GotoMeeting and Ring Ring Central are key platforms that are reliable, easy to use, and won't fail you during an important conversation. You of course know that a phone is critical to taking customer inquiries, but make sure you establish times with your team and who is on call to accept the phone calls so that no client interaction is missed. A CRM platform is the next critical piece that any business over $250,000 should be utilizing. There are free resources for those still under a million, but invest in a more fully developed system once you hit that million dollar producer mark. It helps keep the communication between team members and clients clear and on track to wow your customers. Communication is also not complete without a good office suite, like Microsoft Office Suite and Google Suite, and an instant messenger like Slack or Skype. These systems will keep your team connected and moving forward daily.
The key to get the engine running once you have all of your pieces assembled, is planning and sharing the goal metrics for the company teams and individuals to achieve.
This starts with defining SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Trackable.
In order for you to know that the goals are working, you need to assign a deadline to the goals and have a discussion with the employee on the training they need to accomplish them, if any obstacles are in the way, and what resources they need from you to complete it on time. For a competitive advantage, you can even put those goals up for each individual on a leaderboard and share progress daily/weekly on your morning huddles. This level of transparency encourages team work and competition to win as a company. If your employees know what your expectations are, they can make a plan to achieve them.