Remote team management. Tips from the Head of PMO
The pandemic has officially ended, and many employees still do now want to return to the office. In times of restrictions, we developed a kind of “immunity” to remote work and set up all processes in the company for it. The advantages of this format are obvious - flexibility in organizing time and the ability to be useful without leaving home. About 25% of Fusion Tech employees still prefer to work in a relaxed environment with a blanket and a cat by their side. The same number choose the hybrid format. Despite the significant advantages, with a remote work format it is more difficult to “feel” people, notice any changes in mood, synchronize to resolve issues and adjust to each other’s time zones. To manage a team remotely, completely different approaches and qualities are required. Which? The head of the PMO of Fusion Tech will tell us. He and the entire PM team are remotely located in different parts of the world. So we prepared first-hand advice and recommendations.
1. Modern tools
In the remote format of work, the lack of direct contact between the leader and team members is especially acute. The lack of live communication is filled with correspondence and video calls. We establish business and friendly relations with the help of online tools and programs. To see each other (at least through the screen), platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and their analogues are used. Among them, we will pay special attention to the Slack messenger. Why? The latter tool allows you to simultaneously arrange video calls and conduct business correspondence. Informal, by the way, too. Slack publishes important company news, information about holidays, events, congratulations, meeting new team members, and much other useful information. This helps to feel the unity in the team, even if you are thousands of miles apart.
Ever since stable remote work, a new “player” has also been involved in setting our work tasks - the ClickUp. A useful service for task management. Here you can make a list of goals and tasks, create documents, set up a schedule and use a number of other functions necessary for work. The program is intuitive, easy to use and extremely useful. Highly recommended!
What can be the intermediate conclusion? For an effective process, you need to be able to use tools and platforms for collaboration, project management and remote communication. No other way.
2. Interaction with the team
Online tools and services are very helpful, but do not completely replace all the possibilities of live communication. Brainstorming in Google Meet is more like a chess game where everyone takes turns expressing their opinion, rather than expressive discussions with heated arguments. But even in a remote format, colleagues should have the effect of being present and belonging to the team. How to achieve it? Meet more often! At least online.
We have introduced short daily meetings where we discuss urgent questions and take an interest in each other's affairs. After discussing work moments, we gradually shift the focus to friendly conversations - we talk about books, films, travel and other human joys. This is how loyalty and a light atmosphere are formed. Serious online meetings are held every Monday, but more on that later. In the meantime, to summarize: human interaction is a necessary factor for a comfortable working environment!
3. Atmosphere of mutual assistance
Even frequent meetings will not help unite the team without mutual support. Create a sincere atmosphere in the team, where the participants strive to help each other. Regular support between them creates the right level of comfort. And most importantly, it motivates. Keep the employee motivated through detailed and timely feedback, recognition of achievements and encouragement. Learn to listen and hear, to understand other team members, to delve into their problems and experiences, to sincerely rejoice and praise for successes, not to put too much emphasis on failures. At the same time, do not forget about constructive and healthy criticism, which helps to determine points of growth.
Try to be available and open to discuss controversial issues and issues from team members. The sooner the problematic issue is resolved, the less dramatic the consequences will be. Invest time in creating a healthy team climate, as well as resources in training and developing employees. When the professional skills of the team increase, the productivity of the work process grows as well.
4. Clear goals and objectives
Empathy pales before the ability to convey one's thoughts briefly, succinctly, and most importantly, in layman's language. This is a plus for the employee and a must have for the manager. Both in writing and orally, present information directly and unambiguously. The team should have a clear understanding of the purpose of the work and how to achieve it. In a remote format, this is especially valuable. We do not see the instantaneous reaction of a person, whether he understands the essence of the task ahead. Yes, you can clarify some points in instant messengers or by video call. But why repeat twice what can be said once, right? The faster the team understands the task, the faster it will start and perform it better. The release will loom brighter on the horizon - without doubt.
5. Task distribution
Each team member should have a clear understanding of their tasks and responsibilities. When distributing roles, keep a balance, take into account the competencies and strengths of each member. Ask for feedback periodically. Regular meetings, status updates, discussion of priorities and progress of projects help to make sure that the workload is even and there are no distortions. If necessary, redistribute tasks among team members. The team should have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what, to what extent, and in what time frame the goal is to be achieved.
6. Control of results
Remote management requires tighter control over time. In our case, this is especially true. As we have already said, our PM team operates from several parts of the world. Everyone has different time zones, so you need to take into account differences in work schedules and skillfully maneuver time. All team members should be comfortable. And at the same time, the workflow should not suffer. How to achieve this? Set up regular progress checks. We have already talked about daily meetings. We hold mini-meetings every day, and larger ones every Monday. We agree that Monday is a hard day, but also the most productive one. At a large online meeting, managers give a brief report on their projects and information about the workload. All meetings are agreed in advance and must be entered in the calendar with a reminder. Without prior feedback, it's hard to say how well the work is progressing.
Last but not least, be flexible. Respond quickly to changing conditions, adapt to non-standard situations. Build the work process so that the difference between live communication and network communication is not noticeable. At least it did not affect the setting and execution of tasks. Take our recommendations into service, develop your own rules and everything will work out!
June 19, 2023