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Making Remote Team Members into Managers

Making remote team members into managers

Whenever bloggers or journalists write about the pros and cons of remote working, the lists are pretty similar. They’re all subjects that we’ve discussed in-depth on this blog, whether it’s the increase in productivity, or having access to global talent on the plus side. Or coping with some of the concerns about distributed teams such as isolation or accountability.

One recurring fear regarding working from home is when it comes to remote employee career development. There is this misconception that remote workers are at a huge disadvantage of getting promoted.

While we can’t talk in the name of every company out there, one thing is for sure, helping your employees in strengthening their professional path is possible for any type of company. It’s a responsibility that relies upon the managers who know which employees have been doing a great job and which ones haven’t. 

If You’re Looking To Promote From Within Your Remote Team, Here Are Some Pointers For Making It A Success

According to a survey conducted by ultimate software, out of 1,000 full-time workers in the US, remote workers were 40% more likely to have been promoted in the past year and 23% more likely to feel there is career advancement in their current job compared with in-office workers. 

Lack of progression in a remote career is only a myth. Of course, this also depends on what type of leader you are. 

If you’re looking for ways to support remote employees one of the main things to keep in mind is that the traditional processes don’t work in a virtual environment.

Measuring performance and productivity is completely different because you can’t see your employees physically. However, you can measure their performance on their outputs and on the way they handle their roles and responsibilities. 

Hire remote talent

How do You Know When a Remote Employee is Ready for a Promotion? 

Knowing when your staff is ready for the next step is one of the big questions for managers to consider. You’re not just looking for someone who is doing a great job in their current role but is showing signs of being ready to take things to the next level. Good managers anticipate when their staff is prepared for more responsibility, so be on the lookout for things like:

1. Going the Extra Mile

A staff member who isn’t just doing what they’re hired for well, but is anticipating the next steps and offering that as well. This could be volunteering to mentor a new hire or to sit in for you at a (virtual) meeting.

2. Leadership Skills

When you have your daily stand-up (what do you mean, we haven’t converted you to the Agile Development Methodology yet? Come on, read our free eBook and make the change!) is this staffer showing they are in control of their tasks? If they need help, are they making sure they get it or do they need hand-holding?

3. Supporting Their Colleagues

As you know, great managers ne4.ed to look after the people who work for them. If you have a team member, who is going out of their way to support and encourage their colleagues? They’re on their way to management.

4. Turning Negatives into Positives

Managers are held accountable when things go wrong. If you have an employee who is ready to hold their hands up and admit their failings, they’re in the right mindset. You’re also looking for someone who can take a failure and learn from it, not beat themselves or others up about it.

5. Communication

This one is really fundamental to remote working. As we’ve said once or twice, communication is the oxygen in the blood of virtual teams. In order to be ready for promotion, an individual needs to have mastered communicating while working remotely. That’s not only making sure that they use the right methods, and are accurate and concise in what they say. It’s also a question of understanding how difficult text-based communication can be and taking a deep breath before taking offense.

When you start to see these signs emerging, that’s the time to think about organizing some training to help your staffer get to the next level. HR may not be used to arranging training courses in other countries, but there are always distance learning options that can be explored.

It’s also a good idea to encourage your staff to take a more proactive role within the company. If their exposure to other members of staff has been limited then try and change that. Connect them more directly to the company, so they can build their own support network going forward.

How to Encourage Remote Employee Career Development

When you want to figure out if a remote employee is ready to be promoted to remote manager it’s crucial to understand that this person is representing the entire company.

One of the critical things a remote manager can do to help their team is to represent. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ adage isn’t entirely untrue. On-site employees get occasional face time with even the biggest of bosses. Remote employees tend only to have contact with colleagues when it’s work-related. They won’t have random encounters in the car park, copy room, or at the Christmas party.

So, your job as their manager is to make sure that people know who they are. Name check them often. Ensure that they’re included in the content of and distribution lists for internal newsletters and other company information. Get them invites to head office, if possible, and if not find ways they can be involved in corporate events. If other departments are entering teams to the local 10k and challenging each other to raise the most for charity? You can set up a virtual race so your digital nomads can join in.

Make Sure Remote Employees Want to Grow and Develop in Their Careers

It’s worth having a chat with your future-manager to make sure they want a promotion. They may be showing all the signs, but still not be ready or willing to take the next step. Even if they don’t, they’ll appreciate being recognized for their potential, so you have nothing to lose by talking to them.

If they do want more responsibility, then start giving them that within your team. Delegate tasks to them, perhaps giving them the opportunity to look after a small part of the next sprint and report back during the stand-up.

From there? The process should work exactly as it does for any other employee. Your friendly HR department will no doubt be able to guide you as to your next steps.

Watching those you’ve recruited and mentored go on to do well can be rewarding. It isn’t just a statement as to how well that employee has done, but also to your strengths as the manager of an efficient virtual team. And if that promotion leaves you with a vacancy for a developer, and you’d like the candidate to be pre-vetted for their experience in remote work? Give us a shout. We can help you manage that.

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Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon is a remote work advocate and thought leader and a specialist in persuasive writing. She has an MA in Creative Fiction, is a children's author, and a writer of award-winning short stories.