A Guide for the Best Remote Management Practices

remote management

Especially after the pandemic, diverse company roles had to adjust to new remote management practices. Yet, this sudden shift didn’t end up so well for everyone. If we look at the role of remote managers, common in-office approaches didn’t work for productivity while some teams didn’t respond well to strict monitoring or constant reporting.

Would you feel motivated if your boss contacted you every half of an hour just to make sure you are doing stuff? Or would you rather have a regular follow-up where you can not only show your results but also give feedback and express doubts?

Even for hybrid companies, remote management practices are more vital than ever to the team. So, what qualities to look for when hiring a remote manager?

At DistantJob, we are experts in hiring people. After years, we know that technical skills are important, but often not enough. What some people call emotional intelligence, or ‘soft skills’, is also a crucial element to consider.  

What does that mean? Here is a short guide about the best remote management practices if you a looking for a new remote manager:

What is Remote Management?

In general, remote management is about monitoring and directing your team from different locations. Easy to explain. Yet, it is never about who is going to take charge, but how. At DistantJob, we always believed that trust is the key to remote work. As our President Sharon Koifman says, being an excellent remote manager means being a good manager in general, which is never only about giving orders.

After years in the field, we can confirm that empathy is the most critical skill for a remote manager. Before technical skills, brilliant ideas, and an unbreakable work ethic, look for empathy, the foundation of trust. For sure, the first goal for a remote manager is to hit targets and deadlines. More importantly, your manager represents your company and teaches others what it means to express your values through daily tasks.

Good managers anticipate employees’ needs, understanding what is happening behind the screen. That’s crucial. You might survive without trust in an office, but remotely, trust directly impacts results and efficiency.

remote leadership master class

Remote Management Best Practices 

Onboarding and Clear Instructions

We can never stress this enough. The onboarding process is key to set a good work rhythm.

At DistantJob, we’ve discovered that seven days is a good time to get a team on the same page – even though, for some, it could take a bit longer depending on the background.

Instead of stressing out people about tools and platforms, a good manager will make sure to be around for any questions. They will invest time in explaining tools. They will make sure the team is ready to welcome new members. Because a good manager knows that we are all different, and that the real challenge is communicating with everyone to achieve the same goal, rather than forcing a set model. 

Balance Synchronized Work with Independence

This leads us to this second point. Working from different time zones and locations requires good workflow organization. Working individually can speed up the process, but also create overlaps of assignments and delays when communication doesn’t happen properly.

Here is when the good manager comes into play. Handling workflow from a different perspective, a good manager knows when and how to synchronize tasks and individual work. Above all, how a manager knows how to give explicit instructions to the team about how to get organized.  

Feedback

A good manager isn’t just a good organizer, but also someone able to listen to other people’s feedback. As much as you can anticipate your team needs, you can’t know everything. That’s why it is necessary to listen to what people are saying and accept if, eventually, one of your solutions wasn’t working that well after all.

If your team feels understood, it will be easier to build empathy and increase productivity without forcing them into a crazy working schedule. 

Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees 

1. Rely on Transparent Platforms to Show Everyone’s Work

Clear communication channels are fundamental for remote working. A good manager knows that differences in time zones come hand-in-hand with cultural differences. Even explaining the right methods to follow, some misunderstandings can happen. That’s why a good manager will make sure to adapt communications channels to his/her team.

For some, written communication could work better, while for others, video-calls are more effective. There isn’t one ultimate solution. The important thing is that everyone can keep track of what is happening. 

2. Communications and Body Language

Keeping track of everyone’s work is one thing. Communication strategies are another. The role of a manager is not only following everyone’s targets but also keeping track of the team’s mental health and well-being. Even when remote, a good manager knows how to read the tone of voice and body language to anticipate friction within the team. 

During video-calls, eye movement and lips are a great indicator of feelings like anger or concern. Shoulders and posture are also essential indicators to read your team’s mood. Forbes highlights how, as a remote manager, looking at the posture is key to understanding your team and communicating confidence. You can use body language like hand gestures and arm position to keep an open attitude and increase the relationship’s spontaneity.

3. Video Calls and Follow-ups All Together

Communication channels are vital to smoothing the workflow, but also to bond with your team – and, as you may have noticed, we are pretty obsessed about communication.

At DistantJob, for example, we use a Slack addon called ‘Random Donuts.’ The app randomly pairs two team members for a chat to get to know each other. Through the years, we saw how much this created bonding within our team, which definitely helped work-related communication too. 

So, as a remote manager, don’t be afraid to just have fun! Building trust is also about knowing each team member, so let your creativity go and think of funny ways to know your team on a deeper level! 

Effective Remote Management

When working in an office, a quick look at people in the room can give you an exact picture of what is going on. What do you do when working remotely? Indeed, you can monitor working hours spent on the keyboard; there are tons of apps for this. You can ensure participation by forcing thousands of video-calls per day. Now consider the overhead this means not only for your employees, but for your manager…Do you really think strict monitoring is the best card for a remote manager to play?

At DistantJob, we prefer to look at deliverables. As long as the job is done well and on time, we don’t pay much attention to working hours. For us, this is what works best and what made our productivity increase through the years. The downside of trackers is adding unnecessary pressure on your team. (As well as making them feel like they are in the most boring reality show ever.)

As we said earlier, trust is more efficient than monitoring. Rather than monitoring, promote documenting and reporting while finding balance with workloads. Also, promote constructive conflict. Rather than spot who made a mistake, focus on issues pushing for cooperation. If everyone commits to resolving a dispute, your team won’t feel under observation but part of the moving process. As a manager, accepting different opinions will encourage your team to speak honestly, increasing reciprocal trust and a more proactive attitude to work

Hiring a Remote Manager 

After all of this, remember: a good worker is a good worker. We know that the most important decisions happen during the hiring process. The right person will find the right way. The point of hiring a good manager is leaving important tasks to someone else. So, if you are hiring a remote manager, consider if the person you are looking at has already remote experience. Unlike what you may have been told, learning how to work remotely at the beginning is a distraction from work itself. Check if the person likes to work alone and has a certain flexibility. As we said before, being empathic and flexible to others’ needs is key to running a team remotely. 

There is not a simple way to choose the ideal candidate, especially for a managerial role. Here at DistantJob, we know how hard it is, and that’s why we have your back for every step of the way. If you want to know more, just contact us!

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Costanza Tagliaferri

Costanza Tagliaferri

Costanza Tagliaferri is a Writer and Content Marketer at DistantJob. She has covered a wide range of topics, and now she is focussing on technology, traveling, and remote work.