This article was based on episode 243 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
In the last three years of the Covid pandemic, so many managers - without much guidance - have struggled to figure out how to build remote teams that thrive. These challenges include holding remote workers accountable and building a virtual “watercooler” social culture. As the return to the office mandates have been met with resistance, many managers are asking themselves if it’s really necessary. Abhishek Nayak joins me today to give wisdom on the often overlooked benefits of remote teams.
Abhishek is a co-founder and CEO of four startups. His most recent startup Appsmith is now used by over 10,000 teams, employs people in sixteen countries, and has raised over $51 million in capital. When he was forced to go remote during the pandemic, Abhishek discovered the great opportunities that remote teams offer. Here he shares his top five takeaways from his experience of building powerful remote teams.
1. KNOW (AND USE) THE BENEFITS OF GOING REMOTE
There are many benefits of a remote team which can be used to your advantage. For example, one of the greatest pluses is that team members find it easier to do deep, focused work. You can also attract and hire amazing talent from all over the world. Rather than relying on your budget for those living in your (often expensive) city, discover tremendous talent in new places. Remote teams can also be the best situation for your customers; with people working in different time zones, it’s easier to offer extended hours for customer service.
Additionally, meetings can actually be more engaging and democratized. New technologies allow for anonymous contributions, capturing notes as the conversation unfolds, gathering input from multiple people at the same time, and easy signaling when you want to jump in without having to interrupt.
2. LET YOUR PEOPLE WORK ON WHAT THEY LOVE
Going remote means that you will need to hire staff that works well independently. Self-directed people love to get things done without needing lots of oversight. Create an environment in which your team feels comfortable sharing what they think would be the best thing for the customers, project, or organization, and allow them to figure out their own task breakdown and appropriate deadlines. As their manager, your role is to review and enhance the plan so everyone feels comfortable moving forward.
3. ESTABLISH ACCOUNTABILITY
Autonomous systems only work if accountability is in place. Managers need to hold their people to the deadlines they set. Establish a regular cadence for check-ins to avoid it feeling like you’re micromanaging. Get the right processes and systems in place to track progress.
Then, post-project, have a collective conversation about what could have been done better. Did your employee estimate their time well? Were they given enough opportunities to succeed in this project? If at first things are far off, be patient! As time goes on, most people get better at accurately estimating the time it takes to complete a task.
4. ALL IDEAS ARE WELCOME
It’s rare to find employees with the courage to speak up to their managers about issues they see. This can be even harder when you’ve never met your manager in person or feel like you’re “out of sight, out of mind.” However, employee feedback is critical for your organization’s success. Managers need to be publicly committed to making improvements. Share when someone’s opinion or feedback prompted you to make a change. When you show your employees that you can agree with their dissenting or critical opinions, you are conveying that your position is not about power. This will encourage more people to speak up.
5. EVERY NEW PERSON MEANS YOUR TEAM MUST EVOLVE
It’s helpful to remember that your company or organization is more like an organism that is constantly evolving than a static entity. With each person you add, the team dynamics will shift. Hone your observational skills to better understand people’s communication styles, preferences, and cultures. As you integrate a new team member, consider how the team can benefit from incorporating this person’s experiences with effective remote teaming as well as their unique work style. By doing so, you’ll benefit the whole team and ensure a thriving team culture.
Remote work environments can be extremely fulfilling if managed right. Create a joyful culture of autonomy by giving your staff space to be self-directed. Provide your team the freedom to set their own deadlines, check in often, and continuously improve. Create an atmosphere of honesty and ownership by being receptive to your team’s feedback. And remember that your team will evolve as your team members change. If you approach your role with these five intentions in mind, expect incredible success with your remote staff!
KEEP UP WITH ABHISHEK
Get a free document, Template and Guidelines for Requesting Feedback, when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 243 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.