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Top tips for managing a remote team

Top tips for managing a remote team

A robust remote working model requires a deliberate approach and a good deal of planning

For most franchise owners, remote work has been part of the model from the beginning.

Think about it: many franchisees work in a central office with support staff and communicate with their operating sites, for the most part, at a distance. Working remotely, then, is not completely new.

Now, however, you’ve sent the office staff home and depending on the business your site managers may have sent their staff home too. Here are some tips for helping your teams be productive and engaged in this new model.

A successful remote working model requires much more than simply sending people home with a laptop. It requires a deliberate approach and a good deal of planning.

As you plan, you can focus on four key elements of a robust remote working model: people, processes, tools and technology.

‘People’ is first on that list for very good reason and this article will focus on that element.

I assume you already recognise that your employees are the key drivers of your success, so start by understanding who they are, what they can – and can’t – do and what they need to thrive.

That understanding will provide insight into the processes you need to develop, the tools you need to build or acquire and the technology you need to pull it all together.

Most likely, you’ve already begun to realise that working remotely requires you to let go of some control.

To fill that void, focus on empowering and motivating your people. These are key aspects of a successful culture and, I argue, a great approach is to promote autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy motivates

I’m a big fan of the work of Daniel H Pink, who says that reward and punishment are not the most effective ways to motivate employees.

His research indicates that a better motivational approach is to encourage individual satisfaction. Humans naturally want and seek out autonomy, mastery and purpose, making them powerful tools in promoting satisfaction and motivation.

Since we’re talking about conceding a degree of control, let me point out that ‘autonomy’ isn’t about letting people do whatever they want.

Instead, it’s about giving each employee the leeway to work independently in the way that works best for them, including making certain decisions.

For each person, establish clear goals and boundaries and then give the employee the freedom to operate within those boundaries. The boundaries should provide clarity on tasks and actions and define what success looks like.

As you can see, there is a control mechanism at work here, but you enhance motivation by trusting employees to work in ways that best suit them.

Mastery empowers

Just about everyone enjoys the chance to improve their knowledge and skills.

Overcoming challenges and acquiring mastery is a satisfying part of the human experience, whether it’s related to work or not. Conversely, failure to learn and grow can be discouraging. You’re in a great position, as a leader, to give people opportunities to master new skills.

Start by understanding your employee’s current skills, aptitude and potential.

Among assessment tools, I like DISC and CliftonStrengths.

Both may be familiar to you, but just in case, DISC stands for dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. A DISC assessment reveals how strong an employee is in each area, which provides insight into the kind of work for which they are best suited.

At the risk of oversimplifying, someone who has strengths in dominance and influence is likely to excel in leadership or sales roles. Someone with strengths in steadiness and conscientiousness is a good candidate for accounting or IT.

You may know CliftonStrengths by its original title, StrengthsFinder. What I like about this assessment is that it encourages people to focus on the positive and identify and build on their strengths.

In addition to identifying an individual’s top five strengths, CliftonStrengths profiles each person’s unique mix of 34 different strength themes. These include themes like ideation, command, responsibility, achiever and positivity.

When a person knows their top five strengths, they gain insight into their own work style, motivation and interpersonal preferences. When you, as a manager, know a person’s top five, you can adjust your approach to maximize your ability to motivate them.

A caveat here: these are very basic summaries. To get a fuller understanding of these assessments and how they can help you and your team you should do a bit more research.

Purpose provides focus

This seems intuitive and people work for a salary. However, money rarely is the sole driver and often it’s not the primary driver.

You’ve probably seen or read Simon Sinek’s work – he uses ‘why’ in the same way I use ‘purpose’. To maximise self-motivation, each member of your team should have a clear definition of the purpose of their role in your company, connected to your company’s overall purpose or why.

For employees, purpose may include a desire to make an impact, contributing to something larger than themselves or challenging themselves to grow and learn.

In the remote world, you don’t have face-to-face interaction to promote ownership and accountability. Instead, help each team member connect their personal sense of purpose with your company’s mission. Each one should be able to tell you how their contribution makes a difference.

In a remote working model, autonomy, mastery and purpose help you replace managerial control with empowered self-control. They help employees find the motivation to excel and grow independently. In turn, that allows you to coach and mentor people at a higher level and enables them to perform at a high level, wherever they work.

The author

Chris Dyer is the founder and CEO of PeopleG2.

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