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How to Become an Effective Remote Manager

When the pandemic hit back in March 2020, people were still determining exactly what to expect from the situation and much less how to work effectively. As time went on, people had to pivot and adjust to new ways of doing things.

Now as it looks as though remote work is here to stay, managers are also having to adjust to leading their teams. Being an effective manager can be challenging especially when the situation is different from what you are accustomed to.

Wondering how you can be an effective manager? Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Remote Manager?

Most people know that managers in a company are a necessary part of running a business successfully. These leaders are those who are counted on to delegate and lead their team to ensure the company is running smoothly. 

However, when the pandemic hit and people were scrambling to figure out what to do next, in most cases it was the managers who had to make important decisions. These managers in conjunction with business owners worked tirelessly to figure out how to keep their businesses running efficiently.

Today, more and more businesses are offering the opportunity for people to continue to work remotely. Whether they were offering remote work before the pandemic or not, many have discovered that remote work is a great way to expand their business.

How is the Role of a Remote Manager Different from a Manager in the Office?

When working in person, most people know exactly what is expected of them and in which direction the business is going. They tend to have a pulse on most things that are going on in the workplace. 

Those who are managers in the traditional sense with all work being done in person typically know what to do. This means that they can use all of their previous experience and training effectively and more than likely lead with the confidence of that.

As the work environment switched to remote work, there was a greater need for managers who could not only lead a team in person but who could do so remotely as well. 

Since there was no precedent before this change other than companies who were already doing remote work, managers have had to catch on quickly. The role of the remote manager is in some ways the same, but also much different.

Remote managers have been tasked with trying to lead a team that they do not see daily. Because of this, it can be difficult to know how to lead workers effectively and keep the business running smoothly.

A dark-skinned woman works at a computer in an empty office.
There are many challenges in being a remote manager.

Challenges of Being a Remote Manager

While being a manager in any capacity can be challenging, it can be even more so if you are a remote manager. This is because it is much easier to check the pulse of what is happening if everyone is in the same place.

Having workers scattered around in their own homes makes it more difficult for managers to ensure that their work is being done. In most cases, managers will go one of two directions with their employees including being overly attentive or not attentive enough.

Oftentimes lack of support tends to falter the most when the work is being done remotely instead of in person. Because of this, workers may feel like they are on their own more times than not.

Here are a few challenges remote managers may find themselves facing if lead a team of remote workers:

  • The distance can lead to untrustworthy feelings and the tendency to slack off more often than they should.
  • Solutions to various problems may not be addressed all at once if they do not have a plan to address them.
  • People need to feel like they are needed and are an important part of the company even if they are remote.
  • Not knowing what the boundaries are can leave people feeling overwhelmed.
  • Feedback can get lost in the shuffle.

While these are not the only challenges remote managers face, they are some of the most commonly used complaints. Once managers can find a way to overcome these obstacles, then and only then can the business run effectively.

How You Can Become an Effective Remote Manager

Becoming an effective remote manager comes with many more challenges than managing a team that you see every day. You have to take into account that these are people that you may only see through the monitor of a computer.

Because of the specific challenges of being a remote manager, many people on the job have come up with various ways to overcome these obstacles. For some managers, this means talking to others in the same position or finding other methods that work.

To learn more about becoming an effective remote manager, read on.

Practice Understanding Instead of Micromanagement

Many studies have shown over the years that micromanagement does not work no matter what type of work environment you are a part of. This is because it is human nature to want to be trusted and treated like adults, especially in the workplace.

Because of this, many of those in the trenches have made understanding a bigger priority than the need to micromanage. Understanding means that you show empathy toward workers and try to help them by understanding where they are coming from.

Keep the Focus on Growth

As difficult as it sometimes is to trust that others are keeping up with their work while they are working remotely, it is a necessity. If you cannot trust the people you work with then there is a bigger problem at work.

By keeping the focus of remote work on growth, you as a remote manager can help your workers become more productive and better at what they do. With remote work, it is not so much as important to keep up with time on the clock, but with the growth output workers are displaying daily.

Show Appreciation and Recognition

Because it is extremely easy to feel isolated when you are working remotely, remote management needs to ensure that everyone is satisfied with their work. This can be done through simple conversations and acts of appreciation.

Most managers know that when you show your appreciation to others, they tend to be that much more productive. Recognizing people who work remotely for their hard work will often have the same results.

Maintain Onboarding and Offboarding Procedures

Keep in mind that just because you are working remotely does not mean that you should skip out on certain onboarding and offboarding procedures. When you hire someone new for your remote team, you will need to ensure that they have everything they need to be successful.

This often means that whatever you were doing when the work was being done in person, should continue to be the norm. This will allow new employees to feel comfortable with doing the tasks they have been assigned.

Use Creative Communication Techniques 

When work is being done in person, it is easy to access specific information from people by just going to them to get it. As the shift to remote work gets more and more, there is a need to ensure that there are still ways to communicate, however creative you have to be.

Many companies have used various software to ensure they allow employees to communicate with others daily. Whether or not you have embraced the technology shift you will need to be creative in developing ways for workers to communicate effectively.

Keep Things Positive

If you have ever worked remotely, then you know how difficult it can be to stay positive when it sometimes feels like you are on your private island. While this gives you more freedom to yourself, it can also cause you to feel disconnected from others.

Remote managers can help with this issue by keeping a positive attitude when they meet with employees. In most cases, positivity is something that tends to trickle down from the top and can be the saving grace for many workers.

Set Expectations From the Beginning

Remote managers, while they have a challenging job, should set expectations from the beginning so there is no room for mistakes. This means from the minute someone is hired to the day they resign, expectations should be at the forefront of everything.

Since there are so many new procedures that have to take place, it is important to establish norms that will outline how these procedures will play out. This will set the bar higher and keep employees from just winging it.

Be Open to Input on Doing the Job Differently

For remote managers, the position is most likely quite new and can be somewhat overwhelming at times. The best managers are those who are willing to listen to others, including their subordinates, when it comes to doing the job differently.

Since remote workers are those who are in the trenches, they sometimes have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. The best remote managers are those who can swallow their pride and realize that someone else may know what will work best.

Watch For Signs of Burnout

Another difficult task of the remote manager is watching out for employees who may be burning out. Since you likely only see them a few times per week, if that, you may not be able to pick up on physical signs that indicate they are not doing okay.

Other signs, however, often begin to show with employees who are beginning to burn out. These can often be seen through slower productivity and possibly even not contributing to meetings as they once did.

Make Personal Time a Priority

As a remote manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that employees are not overworking themselves just because they have more access to the work. You can express empathy towards them by letting them know that they are not expected to work more just because they are at home.

If the work you do is not time-sensitive, you may want to experiment with employees creating their schedules to accommodate other things in their lives. It is important, however, to emphasize that flexible schedules are a way for them to make their time a priority over their work.

A man in a suit sits behind a desk with a computer on it.
It is possible to be a successful remote manager as long as you follow a few guidelines. 

Tips for Being a Successful Remote Manager

The most important part of being a remote manager is making sure that your employees feel like they are competent and an essential part of the team. By keeping a few tips in mind, you can create an environment that is conducive to pushing the company forward.

Check out these tips that may help you become a successful remote manager:

  • Those who say that communication is key must have been talking about remote work since it relies heavily on the remote manager to keep these lines of communication open.
  • Keep in mind that the world is in the midst of a technological revolution and because of this, as a remote manager, you will need to embrace technology more than ever.
  • When you can express empathy for others it will go a long way toward building an effective remote team.
  • The more transparent you can be in your role as a remote manager the more employees will come to trust you and your ability to lead the team to greatness.

Although there are likely more tips that are just as important, these are the most commonly discussed ones in the management field. As you begin to do the work as a remote manager, you should ensure that you are keeping up with the trends and changes in the remote world.

Ready to Become an Effective Remote Manager?

Now that you have all of the tools in your toolbelt to face the challenges of being a remote worker, it is time to dive into the deep end. As you take on the obstacles, you should respect others by not only showing them empathy but by respecting the professional boundaries that are likely in place.

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