Over the past few weeks, many companies have shifted to a fully remote workforce for the first time. This means that managers are now facing the brand new challenge of managing remote workers, including questions such as, “How am I going to do this when I can’t physically see someone working?”
As a company that’s been 100% remote for over 13 years, we happen to know a thing or two about what it takes to effectively manage a productive remote workforce. Here are three pieces of advice – based on first-hand experience – that we can share with you:
1. Establish clear KPI’s/metrics and structured 1:1 meetings
This advice, of course, does not just apply to remote workers. However, in a remote environment where you can’t see someone working away every day, it is especially important to establish clear KPI’s and review them during regular check-ins.
This helps ensure your employee understands what is expected of them and what they need to accomplish in order to be successful. At Acceleration Partners, we typically have structured weekly 1:1s where both employee and manager prepare topics for discussion ahead of time. The preparation and structure allows for efficient and productive meetings where everyone walks away from it on the same page.
Here is an example of a format we commonly use:
- Challenges/Roadblocks: These are the highest priority items.
- Discussion Topics/Updates: Non-critical topics that require collaboration and input.
- People Management: Critical and noteworthy items that are people-related.
- Professional Development: May not be covered weekly, but critical to ensure that regular communication on progress occurs.
- Action Items: Meant to hold one another accountable on tasked actions discussed.
- Long Term Goal/Project Review: Reminder to not let these drop.
- Review Metrics: Review individual KPIs to identify any issues and ensure that goals are staying on track.
2. Ask open-ended questions and create space for venting
Working from home can get lonely at times. Depending on the role or team, you may be one of the only coworkers that your employee talks to that week. A way to help them better process and formulate their thoughts, especially around any concerns or frustrations they may be having, is to ask open-ended questions when you connect with them over video or phone.
Such questions include:
- What is on your mind?
- What else do you need to feel like you’re set up for success?
- What are your ideas? Concerns? Problems?
- What kind of training or resources do you need?
Speaking from experience, a manager’s listening ear can help provide clarity and new perspectives to team members.
3. Get Personal
When your team is remote, there are few if any opportunities to “bump into each other,” chat over a cup of coffee in the office kitchen or grab lunch. However, it is possible to build this time in virtually with colleagues using the same technology you use for video meetings. But instead of talking work, you get to know your colleagues on a more informal level.
Some of our colleagues organize virtual team socials where we do everything from Happy Hour and trivia to pet and kid cameos.
It’s also possible to weave in more personal into the profession in meetings. For example, even when we have virtual work-related meetings, we carve out time at the outset to talk about what’s going on in our lives outside of work. One way we do this is to kick meetings off by going around and sharing one good personal and professional thing that’s happening in our world.
It can be very easy to default to “getting right down to business” mode. However, taking time to getting to know each other on a more individual and personalized level is an important aspect to building trust and respect with your team.
There’s no doubt that it’s a confusing time for many people right now; suddenly needing to pivot from a predominantly in-office organization to a remote one can definitely add to that stress.
These practical – and well-practiced—suggestions can help you provide comfort, stability and continuity to your teams’ work-life so they can continue doing great work, even from a distance.
You can learn more about our award-winning remote work culture at https://www.accelerationpartners.com/company/.
Stefani Baranowski is the Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at Acceleration Partners