Managing employees who are in the same building as you are is hard enough, but overseeing remote workers can be even more challenging. Many managers feel that the physical distance prevents them from being truly cognizant of their staff’s needs or certain about their subordinates’ productivity. Some address their concerns by micromanaging their staff, frequently sending out messages asking for updates, dictating instructions, and imposing repetitive rules they believe will maintain team cohesion.
But micromanaging a remote team almost never works, because:
- It puts more pressure on your team. Being micromanaged feels like having someone breathing down your neck while you work. This can be a nerve-wracking experience, regardless of whether it is done in person or virtually. The possibility of committing an error becomes scarier, making it harder to focus.
If your team is working from home to escape the coronavirus pandemic, then they are already likely under pressure to fulfill tasks while having to contend with distractions, such as having to take care of the kids. Micromanaging will only make things worse.
- It hinders productivity. Imagine stopping in the middle of a task just to update your boss on what you’re doing for the fourth time in an hour. If you do this with your team, you'll be killing their momentum and preventing them from completing tasks on time.
- It kills confidence and innovation. Eventually, constant micromanagement will make your employees feel as if they’re not good enough to do their job. Low morale reduces their confidence in their work and makes them less creative.
- It stifles your employees. A remote work arrangement is supposed to give your team greater freedom to finish in a more comfortable place and at an easier pace. Replying to emails checking up on their progress and following redundant policies, such as filling too many trackers just to prove they finished a single task, negate this benefit and make remote work less flexible than it should be.
How do you avoid micromanaging employees?
Some experts suggest that people are innately micromanagers, so you’re probably doing it without your knowledge. But considering the negative effects of micromanaging your staff, you have to be extra conscious of your management style and its effects. Here are tips to keep you on a reasonable path:
1. Build trust
Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to your team members, as long you take their time, capabilities, and resources into account. Delegating shows you trust your employees’ ability to function independently, which will build up their self-confidence.
2. Pay attention to culture
You’re probably thinking, “So my staff knows I trust them, but how do I know they’re not breaking my trust?”
As a manager, you’re in a position to spearhead a culture of productivity and autonomy. A key value to creating such a culture is transparency. Encourage your staff to tell you about their needs and any problem they might encounter as they work on their tasks. Ask them for feedback on your leadership and what needs to be improved about the team’s remote work arrangement.
And when your staff does communicate with you, make sure to listen and take notes. If you can immediately offer the support they need, then do so. Should you receive suggestions you can implement, then give it a shot. When you encourage transparency and respond immediately, you won’t have to email your staff for updates or suggestions — they’ll email you on their own accord.
3. Manage expectations
Instead of bugging your subordinates with frequent orders and criticisms, why not set the right expectations and trust everyone to meet them? Tell your team what you want them to accomplish within a given time frame, using what tools, and to which standards. Make quality your goal, but don’t unnecessarily demand perfection. Also, keep in mind that some of your staff may be using resources at home that are not on par with the ones you use in the office. For instance, they may have slower internet connections or lower-end computers at home.
Do ask for updates, but at a reasonable frequency. This reduces pressure on your team and may even encourage them to think of creative solutions to finish tasks at hand.
4. Use technology
If you really must keep close tabs on your staff’s progress, then you can do so without interrupting them by using the right tools. Productivity apps like Trello, Basecamp, Monday.com and Asana give you a clear visual of what tasks are on which team member’s plate and which ones have been accomplished so far. You can even add comments, details, and additional tasks when needed.
Business messaging apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Skype allow you to quickly send and receive messages. Unlike email, these apps confine your conversation to specific channels, which means you don’t have to scour your entire inbox just to see an employee’s answer to a question. These apps also allow you to attach and download files, ensuring smooth and quick collaboration among the different members of your team.
We know it’s hard to manage a team effectively, especially if you have other matters, such as IT issues, on your mind. Let Tech Squared take care of your IT so you can focus on your staff and make sure they work together to achieve your company’s objectives. Discover how we can help you reach your full potential by downloading this free eBook today!
Keywords: managing the team, managing employees, managing remote teams