5 Tips To Help You Manage a High-Performing Remote Team

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Our easy 5-step formula for managing remote teams will help your crew exceed expectations, boost motivation, and make them feel appreciated from day one.
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Managing remote teams isn’t the same as leading an in-office crew you see every day. 

You may have experienced this issue first-hand as COVID-19 forced your employees to move out of sight and into the virtual space. 

While you may have focused on getting everyone used to remote work during this first phase, now it’s time to move on to phase two: optimization. 

Here, managers need to establish a different set of rules, guidelines, and incentives if they want high-performing teams that crush goals and exceed expectations. 

So if you’re struggling with how to manage your remote team, or you want to learn how to take your management efforts to the next level, today’s guide has exactly what you need.

You’ll find five proven tips for managing remote teams and getting them to outperform, including the best ways to make your crew feel appreciated and motivated to succeed.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Teams and Inspiring Greatness

The first step to building a high-performing remote team is to hire the right people. Since we discussed this strategy in detail in a previous post, we won’t dive into this topic today. Instead, we’ll assume you’ve already found and vetted the right remote team members.

Follow this formula, and your employees will work together to achieve goals like a well-oiled machine despite being miles apart:

#1. Set the Tone with a Shared Vision and Values

One common mistake remote managers often unknowingly make is skipping straight to the performance aspect each new hire or current employee brings. 

But you shouldn’t be so focused on getting the most out of each person that you forget to explain what they’re actually working for.

Managers must lay necessary groundwork before anything else. These foundational pieces will help you establish common goals and shared values everyone will work toward and exemplify.

So explain your “North Star” or purpose to each team member. This guiding principle should help focus your employees on the “why” behind what your company does.

Do you want to help customers solve a specific problem or achieve more with your products or services? Do you aim to help people earn or save more money? 

Express your goals to your team at the very start. Then discuss how they should actively work to help as many potential and current customers reach this.

As a single driving force, your North Star helps employees connect to the bigger picture of why they’re doing what they do each day. 

This shared vision can help people move past bad days and plateaus where the work seems repetitive and mundane.

Without knowing this higher purpose, team members can easily feel distracted, unmotivated, and like they’re only working to collect a paycheck. This is especially true with remote team members who don’t get the camaraderie that comes with working alongside other employees.

So as you onboard new work-from-home employees, make sure everyone is on the same page with how they fit into the grand scheme of your business goals.

And don’t just stop there.

#2. Establish Trust and Strive for Connection

Rather than forcing your team to like you (hello, Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin), you’re better off striving to make connections and establish trust.

If your employees see that you genuinely believe in the company’s mission, they’ll feel inspired and compelled to do the same. And if they have complete trust in you, you’ll have a better chance of getting them to perform at a high level.

The goal here is to be a leader, not a boss. You want to be someone they can look up to and learn from, not someone who orders them around and berates them whenever they don’t perform well.

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So connect with your remote team early and often. Take the time to learn each person’s strengths and weaknesses, not so you can harp on them, but to help them grow as individuals and in their career.

We’re not suggesting you morph into someone who likes the same college football team and crappy reality TV. Just find common ground and focus on building that connection.

Doing this will help your team see the good in you, and that you’re someone who can be counted on and trusted.

Once this mutual respect has been earned, it’ll be easier and more effective for you to:

#3. Set Expectations and Standards, and Put the Right Systems in Place

These two must-have ingredients — setting expectations and standards, and putting systems in place — are intrinsically connected to performance.

Sharing expectations and standards during the onboarding process ensures that everyone is on the same page

Having these expectations clearly laid out early on and reinforced often will give your team a playbook to follow so they don’t waste any time. You’ll minimize any second-guessing and green-light productive, independent workflows.

Set performance benchmarks to serve as motivation, not the end-all-be-all. If you’re constantly chasing numbers, or having your team do the same, you’ll have a recipe for burnout and unhappy employees.

Instead, your benchmarks should become targets employees will attempt to hit. And they’ll need to be adjusted accordingly (both up and down), depending on what’s going on in your business.

Setting high standards and benchmarks is just the first step; you must have systems in place to ensure that these are met and kept.

Create and streamline systems that quality check as employees work. These systems will keep everything organized and on-track with your weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. They’ll also show the level of high-quality work you expect from your team.

#4. Communicate Regularly — And Don’t Hover!

After you relay your expectations and standards to your team, it’s vital that you don’t micromanage or hover during their workday. This generally makes employees so stressed that they can’t perform at their best.

That’s why we recommend juggling an asynchronous style of communication with a synchronous one. This simple strategy makes sure your team works efficiently and prevents them from feeling like they’re always under a microscope.

To do this, opt for check-ins at regularly scheduled times instead of sending millions of Slack messages asking for updates throughout the day.

These check-ins give you the chance to see what’s going on behind the screens without breaking someone’s productivity and concentration. They’ll also help you gauge whether projects are running on schedule long before a deadline is missed.

Most importantly, asynchronous communication shows that you trust your employees to get their work done off-site. It allows them to work in productive spurts without distraction, which is essential for high-performing remote teams.

#5. Offer Incentives and Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Your remote team should feel like you’re genuinely excited and thrilled when they reach their benchmarks or surpass them.

A quick kudos or shout-out in Slack is usually all it takes to make people feel appreciated for a job well done.
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You can take this a step further by having built-in incentives that reward employees for going above and beyond.

This doesn’t have to be anything crazy expensive, like a free month of vacation or a Tesla. Just sending a digital gift card to buy coffee is enough to show your appreciation.

When remote employees feel this kind of love, they’re bound to stick around longer and work harder. And as a manager, you couldn’t ask for anything better.

Treat Your High-Performing Remote Team Right, and They’ll Do Right By You

These five easy steps will guarantee that your remote team performs at the highest level — even if you’re thousands of miles apart.

While none of these tips are complicated or time-consuming, they do require a bit of thought and planning on your part. Use this blueprint as a starting point, and feel free to add your own twists.

For example, you may decide to hold weekly video calls with your team to connect and go over all their excellent work. Or you might have them come up with their own ideas for incentives to personalize the experience for each individual.

By following these tips, you’ll build a stronger remote team that outperforms all your expectations — and potentially exceeds what you were used to when everyone worked under the same roof.

Still struggling to find the right remote team members? Try posting a job on our remote job board, and tap into incredible talent around the globe. Once you hire the right people, you can then focus your efforts on turning them into a well-oiled and appreciated team.

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