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How To Manage A Remote International Team

How To Manage A Remote International Team

A survey conducted by PGI revealed that 79 % of global knowledge workers work remotely. With the rising number of workers opting for remote work, it is only coherent to say that the employers need to manage a remote team more effectively than ever.

Getting every member of the team connected and on the same page can be tricky. Since the team is distributed across the globe, with people living in different time zones and the lack of nonverbal communication coupled with no physical contact, managing such a team requires efficacious management.

Following are few tips that one can keep in mind while managing a great remote team:

Uniform development management process

To ensure that every member of the team is on the same page, you need to adopt a uniform development management process. Changing the uniform method several times will only create mass miscommunication and confusion among the team members.

Use video conferencing

Video conferencing must be at the heart of your management strategy. With members separated by geological boundaries, this is the best way to gather the team around.

Hold video conferences at three intervals: at the beginning of a project, during the project and at the completion of the project. This way one can ensure that all the members are on the same page, are doing well and have reached their goals.

Because the remote teams lack physical contact, it is only natural for messages to get interpreted in the wrong way. Hence, the manager must use smiley faces, as this can convey the emotion beyond a chat message. Sending emoticons across can give a heads up to other members on what you are feeling today and can help catch problems easily.

Record instructional videos

Instructional videos can be the potential game changers. Many times, people pass them for being too tedious to record, upload and share. However, they are handier than you think. Such videos save the precious time wasted in waiting for a person to come online and then talk. Instead, send the recorded video and answer the questions that the recipient may have.

For the recipient of the video who may or may not be in your time zone, it could be a great boon as he can watch it at his convenience and get the work done accordingly.

End of the day video updates

As a manager, it will be of a great help to know what work has been done and what suggestions have to be made. This will shorten the time spent on rectifying errors during work hours and will provide a sense achievement to the team members by summing up their wins for the day.

Such a technique will boost up the morale of the team members and will encourage camaraderie.

Regular meetings

The ideal way to avoid miscommunication and disconnection of the remote team is by holding regular meetings using Google Hangout, Skype etc. This way you can keep the team together by letting them talk about the work, brainstorm creative ideas, swap information or voice grievances.  An additional advantage of this technique is the feeling of ‘being a part of the team’ and ‘my opinions matter’ amongst the members. Encouraging open communication through such meetings will result in higher productivity and employee satisfaction.

Set expectations and goals

A team will be productive when they know what their goals and targets are. Set 30 days, 60 days and 90 days goals for the team and let them do their work at a favourable hour.

Also, setting up macro and micro goals can be constructive as it enables to break up bigger projects into multiple achievable targets. Letting the developers control their deadlines makes them feel more responsible and allows you to shift resources easily if there are visible roadblocks.

Furthermore, such a schedule makes releasing dates more predictable and helps in planning for the next big projects.

Focus; try to avoid multitasking

It would only be rational to focus on one thing, test it, rectify the errors,  prove it and then move on to another thing. Lean developments will save the time and effort which can be utilized in another project. After all, on-time delivery is what all managers strive for!

Build personal relationships

Building off-the-work relationships are beneficial for a manager to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Knowing the skills of each individual will help in assigning the tasks and the growing fondness will make the members go the extra mile for you in order to get the task completed.

Know your tools and use them

The world is filled with various management tools. Using them in your management process will reduce the burden on your shoulders and the automation will ensure error-free work.

For example, use Trello for projects, Slack for notifications, ScreenFlow to record videos etc.

Using such tools have the following benefits:

  1. It avoids the unnecessary grapevine and makes sure that the message is passed on to each team member directly.
  2. Helps in preventing loss of vital information.
  3. People have different work styles. Some work fine with distractions while others produce their best with no distractions around. Using Slack is a great option for people who do not like distractions while working or with people who have different working hours.
  4. These tools also save all the messages and data shared, which in turn reduces the time and effort of looking up for that one instruction that was circulated two weeks back.

Become a leader

It would be a Herculean task to micromanage every assignment and macro managing every task is not always engaging enough. Hence, create an outline at the beginning, distribute responsibilities, chalk out a workflow pattern, set outcomes and results and keep communicating. Instead of asking questions and seeking answers, challenge the team members, inspire them and encourage them to come up with better solutions.

Concentrate on the results rather than the process

Being clear on ‘what’ than ‘how’ is the hallmark of an able manager. Provide detailed specifications on what the product needs, the desired outcome and let the team find out ways to implement it.

Make sure that everyone is on the same page no matter where they are from

There are lots of companies out there that have a very global workforce. This is when you need to make sure that you have uniformed systems in place to ensure that no matter where your team is, they stick to your way of doing things. Different countries have different cultures when it comes to business, so making sure that everyone’s on the same page is paramount to making sure that there are no misunderstandings.

As challenging as it may seem, managing a remote team is an invigorating game. If done correctly, remote teams can put you on a fast-moving success path – sometimes even sooner than an office team!


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