With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces had to abruptly shift to remote work. Managers were presented with the obstacle of supervising employees they didn’t see in person. Managing virtual teams can be a challenge, especially for those with no experience. For some, the transition was tough, but many soon discovered that productivity levels could be maintained and even improved when employees worked from home. When managers adopt the correct type of leadership approach to remote management, both employer and employees benefit.
An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) can increase knowledge and provide advanced skill sets to lead both in-person and remote teams successfully.
Tips for Leading Teams Remotely
With more and more people working remotely, management skills are evolving. Unfortunately, what works in an office setting doesn’t work for a remote situation. While it’s preferred for managers to receive advanced training in remote management, the sudden shift to working from home in March 2020 didn’t offer the opportunity. For those with little or no experience leading remotely, here are some helpful tips for managing remote teams and overcoming common obstacles:
- Set clear expectations. Letting employees know what’s expected of them allows for open communication. Having requirements for check-ins, letting them know the best way to get in touch, providing tips for working from home, knowing how to welcome new members to the team, setting goals and being an active participant in work meetings gives a manager a set way to evaluate the performance of a team.
- Trust your employees. After defining expectations, trust that they will accomplish their goals. Micromanaging employees can be stressful for both sides. When managers focus on the result instead of how each employee achieves the goal, the employee can feel comfortable accomplishing their tasks in their own way. Approaching remote management with the attitude that all employees who work from home are untrustworthy or unmotivated creates a hostile work environment that even remote workers can sense. Allowing the space for employees to meet their goals with autonomy is an important part of leading a remote team.
- Be transparent. Leading by example and being transparent with employees builds trust and confidence. When sharing information, share it with everyone so no one feels overlooked. When a leader is open and transparent, their employees feel comfortable asking questions and sharing information.
- Communicating with employees who work from home ensures everyone is on the same page. If a topic comes up in a video meeting, send a follow-up email to summarize and confirm the information. While something may be clear in your mind, it might not be as clear to someone else. Reach out to employees with whom you don’t speak regularly. Getting to know your employees lets them know that they’re valued members of the team and thought of as individuals.
- Organize virtual activities. Creating a remote culture is an important tool for managers. Planning online bonding activities, happy hours, games and more creates a sense of togetherness and promotes workplace unity.
Helping employees feel valued and trusted is a significant part of remote management. It’s easy to feel lonely or disconnected from the larger unit when working from home. However, a quick email can make a remote team member feel connected and valued. This online MBA can provide a solid foundation of critical thinking and problem-solving skills while understanding the use of business approaches, marketing, finance and organizational behavior.
Learn more about the University of Illinois Springfield’s online Master of Business Administration program.