Managing A Remote Team – What Skills Do You Need?

More and more managers are finding themselves responsible for managing people who work remotely. This requires a different skill set to managing a traditional team of people. So what skills does the remote team manager need to develop or improve?

As the manager of a remote team you will need to develop certain skills to a high level of proficiency as well as adopting a management style that is appropriate for managing remote workers. Let us take a look at these.

As a remote team manager, you are responsible for meeting business goals and getting results through your team’s efforts. You will, therefore, need to be competent in setting objectives and in performance management.

You will need to give your team members flexibility in how the outputs are achieved so should be able to evaluate success through what has been achieved and who has contributed to this achievement.

Effective communication skills are considered a core management skill whatever type of team you manage. However the ability to communicate effectively becomes absolutely essential in teams where the manager and staff are in different locations and/or different time zones.

You will need to develop strong communication skills so that the objectives you set are clearly expressed so that everyone in the team understands your expectations.

Other interpersonal skills that you will need for managing remotely include listening, persuading & influencing and negotiation skills.

The ability to coach will also be required to personally develop staff and emotional intelligence (i.e. awareness of the impact of your own behaviour on others) is also an important skill to develop.

When looking at management styles, McGregor categorised managers as either Theory X or Theory Y in style.

A Theory X manager believes that people inherently dislike work and prefer to be directed. Therefore, team members must be coerced or controlled in order to get results. Such managers feel they are not in control unless employees are constantly under their watchful eye. This style is clearly the opposite of what is required (or possible) in a remote team situation.

A Theory Y manager has the opposite attitude to a Theory X manager. They believe that people view work as being as natural as play and rest are, so accept and seek responsibility. Theory Y managers use a light-touch management style, as they expect team members to exercise self-direction and self-control. They give individuals in their team responsibility and trust them to “get on with the job”. This means that theory Y managers have a much greater chance of successfully managing remote teams than theory X managers do.

To build the skills you need to manage a remote team, why not attend our one day workshop?