There are many challenges that are associated with managing a project team, and these challenges seem to multiply when it comes to remote project teams. When the members of your team are geographically dispersed, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is on the same page, that they communicate effectively, and that they remain motivated.
Respect cultural differences – When you are managing people that live in different countries, come from a different background, and have different religions, you need to respect this. Failing to respect the cultural values of your team can cause relationships to breakdown quickly. How we do things here in the UK is totally different to how things are done overseas. Don’t attempt to overrule religious events or public holidays simply because they are not followed over here. Also, you need to acknowledge the fact that working culture differs from country to country as well.
Accountability – If you are to manage any team effectively, accountability is key. It can be a lot more challenging to hold team members accountable when they are based in a different location. However, there are a number of techniques you should employ. Here are some suggestions:
Track productivity – You need to put a system in place to track the productivity of your team. There are different measurements you can utilise to track productivity, from hours work to attendance. This will give you a good idea of what is really going on in different departments so you can make sure that everyone is pulling their weight.
Be transparent – If you expect your team member to be transparent with you, then you need to be transparent with them. Keep all of your team members in the loop whenever you make a decision. This will encourage them to be active in the project, as you will ensure they are engaged and that they are fully aware of the status of the project.
Schedule check-ins each day – You don’t need to hold a formal every day – once a week will suffice. However, you should make sure that you check in with your team on a daily basis. Make sure that all those working on the project currently give you a status of current tasks, and what they intend to get finished next.
Make sure you are available – All members of your team, no matter where they are based, should feel like they can get in touch with you whenever they need to. If you are rarely available, this is something that everyone will pick up on, and they will see it as an opportunity to let their efforts slide. You need to give all workers the feeling that you are there and available to help.
Take advantage of IM – Instant messaging is a great way to boost communication and ensure that people get updates and any information they need easily and quickly. It is advisable to have a core messaging app in place so that you can communicate with all of your works,
Be upfront about your expectations – Remote workers need to have a thorough understanding of what you expect from them throughout the project. Not only will this ensure you are both on the same page, but if you do not distinguish your expectations, you won’t be able to measure the employee’s efforts effectively.
Establish responsibilities and roles
Being upfront about what you expect from your team also extends to establishing roles and responsibilities for each worker. All remote team members should be fully aware of what their role is, and how this affects other people in the team and their role. Clear communication is of paramount importance, as lines can easily be blurred when people are geographically separated.
Encourage team members to get to know each other
When employees are working in the same environment, they easily get to know each other. On the other hand, when employees are based in different locations, this is one of the most difficult things. However, there are a few steps you can take to improve the situation. It is good to have some form of centralised software and communication system in place so that everyone is connected. Also, do not discourage small talk. You may feel that your employees are simply wasting time by talking to one and other, but it helps to build bonds and strengthen connections in your team, so it can only be a good thing.
Set up a communication plan
Communication is of paramount in any project team, yet there are many hurdles in the way when it comes to remote teams. Not only do you have time differences, but there are language barriers to contend with too. This is why you need to have a communication plan in place, which should outline the likes of what teams need to communication, how they will communicate it, who needs the details and when, and what you should do if communication breaks down. Finally, assess the different forms of communication that are available and how you are going to use them, including e-mail, instant messenger, phone calls, video chats, small videos.
Take a project management training course
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure you have all of the tools and tricks that are needed to manage a remote project team, you should consider one of the available project management courses. They will ensure that you have all of the skills required to communicate effectively and make certain that everyone is working hard towards the same goals.
From project management training to holding team members accountable, you now have many tips that you can use whenever dealing with a remote project management team. There is no denying that this can be difficult. However, if you have a good plan in place, you can make sure things run a lot more smoothly. Follow the tips above, and you will notice a significant difference in the way your team works.
Stories by Julie Lord