Not everyone can work remotely, but it's becoming more and more of a trend. 43 per cent of Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016. This brings a new challenge for employers. While many employees need to build remote working skills to work efficiently in this new economy, entrepreneurs need to build leadership skills to work with teams spread throughout the globe. Here's five keys I've learned (the hard way) about leading a remote team.
Over communicate everything
It's easier to assume people can read minds. Spoiler: they can't. (It only took me two years to figure that out!)
When working with employees - especially those who are remote - over-communicate everything!
I can't tell you how many times a one-week project turned into a two-week project just because of a mis-communication.
Typically, at our meal planning company, we did twice weekly calls. Mostly because I'm not a huge meeting fan and it seemed to work and help keep us on top of what was happening.
After a few projects went too-long, we added a third meeting on Wednesday. At first, I thought it would be a slog - more meetings - no! But, we quickly found that those meetings could easily clear up a huge roadblock on that week's objective and we could get those tasks done sooner (rather than waiting until Friday and pushing it off to the next week).
Now, I tend to over-explain or ask for a confirmation on what we're going to do so I can be sure that everyone knows exactly where we stand.
Invest, invest, invest
I used to skimp on my team members. I wanted to keep the team small and didn't want to have to manage a bunch of people. Unfortunately, it was hard to hang on to people like that and hard to grow Impossible the way I wanted to with that mindset.
Since, I've gone the other way and focused on investing - not just in contractors - but as employees, team members and people who have a critical role in the business.
When you put more into employees, they tend to give a lot more back.
Explain the why
One thing I've been careful to explain why. Both why we do things a certain way and why each team member needs to do that specific role.
It helps on a couple different fronts. First, it helps me get clear on why each team member is doing what they're doing. Chances are, if I can't explain to them why they're doing Job X, then they won't be able to either.
Second, it helps them understand their purpose, role and direction in the company, lets them know what things they might be able to change - even if it's not explicitly lined out.
Show their impact
One of the biggest competitive advantages you can have as a small business is to show your team members the impact they're having on the work you're doing.
Seeing your work go from idea to production in a month (or less) is a huge motivator and it's amazing to see what your team can do when they realise that what they do is going ot have a real impact on the business overnight.
Delegate and step back
I'm going to steal something from Jocko on leadership here - de-centralise everything.
Once everyone knows the mission and knows their role, then delegate, trust your team and step back.
It can be tempting to want to be in the weeds and double/triple-check everything yourself, but it can be demoralising for your team members and make them gun-shy if you're constantly second-guessing their decisions. You're paying your team to do the work - trust them to do their job!
Get clear on the mission and then get out of the way!
What leadership lessons have you learned working in the remote economy?
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