Communication is important in any business relationship, but arguably more so if you’re working with a remote team. Since you don’t have in person interactions, stay up to date with projects, deadlines, and payments can be tricky without good communication. Technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with people all over the globe, and transformed the way we do business. Here are some tips to help you build strong communication with your remote team.
It’s easy to get swept up in your busy schedule, especially if you’re managing an in person team alongside your remote team. Checking in via conference calling services, email, or video chat, is a great way to keep in contact and show your team that you have them in mind.
Remember that checking in should only be done when it’s appropriate; obviously checking in on people at 11pm to see how they’re doing on a project is inconsiderate (unless they’re in a different time zone and a few hours behind you). Additionally, micro managing and checking in too frequently can potentially cause conflict.
Here are some good times to check in with your team:
- After assigning a large project or task
- As a project nears its deadline
- Post-completion to give feedback and see how the team felt about the project
- After a change in the company or its policies
Encourage Your Team To Reach Out
The worst thing you can do for your team is seem closed off, or unreachable. If you’re managing a remote team, you are their go-to for all questions and comments. If you can’t be reached, don’t respond, or seem disinterested in their concerns, they won’t be inclined to come to you in the future, which can only serve to create further issues and tension.
Encourage your team to call, email, or text you with any questions they may have (within reason) and provide specific times of day when you can be reached. That way, no one is unsure of your response times or when it’s ok to contact you. Give a guaranteed window of time in which you will respond, and stick to it. Even if it’s within one whole business day, your team knows that you’ll get back to them instead of wondering when to expect your response. If you give your word, keep it, and you’ll build trust with your team.
Use Screen Sharing Software
Screen share software provides an excellent opportunity to build communication remotely by allowing you to share exactly the information you want via a shared computer screen. There’s no confusion or misinterpretation about the information, because you’re showing the team what’s on your screen.
You can create powerpoint presentations, graphs, charts, and more, and share it directly with your team members. The expectations and the information is clear and concise, and presented in a way that makes it easy to remember.
Use A Shared Calendar
Using a calendar that everyone can edit and set reminders with via the cloud can help your team stay organized and in perfect synchronicity. It’s important to remember that not everyone will be in the same time zone, and in fact will not have the same schedules, so making deadlines clear is essential. Google Calendar, for instance, is a great resource that allows you to create and edit events, send them to other Google users, and allows them to respond and/or RSVP to said event.
You can also use these tools to be aware of everyone’s availability and time off, so you can schedule projects around the team’s availability. Nothing is worse than accidentally creating a deadline that falls in the middle of someone’s vacation. Neither you-nor your team-want that level of tension when working together.
Create An Online Space For Free Chatting
Communication doesn’t have to be all about work. Sometimes it’s nice to have a place where employees can talk about other things, much like the break room in an office setting. It gives you and your team members the chance to get to know each other and talk about something besides work during your day.
You can use a variety of apps to chat with such as Facebook messenger or Slack, but the important thing is that you let your employees know you’re interested in who they are as people, as well as what they can do for the company.
Both good and constructive feedback are essentially for effective communication and relationship building within your team. Celebrate your team’s successes. Let each member know that their contribution was essential to the completion of the project and that you value the time they invested in it.
Additionally, be sure to offer constructive criticism where necessary. If done correctly, this can inspire your team members to do better, and can turn your team into a well oiled machine. If done improperly however, this can cause tension and resentment. You don’t want to come straight out with what they’re doing wrong. Try identifying a strength before explaining what their weakness is.
Your Team Is Your Strength
A manager is only as good as his team, and vice versa. Your team will respond to respect and good communication. Goals will be clearly set, everyone will be on the same page, and productivity will be high, as long as you remember to keep in touch and remind your team that they’re doing a great job.