How to mentor a remote working team
Ifty Nasir, is the co-founder and CEO of Vestd, the Share Scheme platform. Vestd has been managing their team remotely for many years, having initially started out in a shared office. Here he shares his advice based on that experience.
We have just witnessed a revolution in the way we work. It now appears doubtful that most people will ever return to working in an office five days a week. What does that mean for management?
Remote teams have to work harder in a few crucial areas, such as team alignment, knowledge sharing and company culture. They need to continually refine the processes to make sure that the whole team pulls in the right direction.
You need to establish trust and strengthen bonds between colleagues. This is especially important when bringing in new hires. Remote teams have to try that little bit harder to forge relationships.
The key is to ensure your team communicates regularly with each other. It is a fine balance. Anyone who has worked in an office will know that meetings can be the death of productivity, so try to minimise the number of them. However, it is crucial to conduct regular check ins and it is worth putting structure around this.
Consider holding morning stand ups around three times a week and encourage everyone to attend. These should not be a rigorous checklist of what people are doing, but an opportunity to give the team sight of the initiatives in progress across the company. Blockers can be flagged and discussed with the relevant people straight after the standup, or in a subsequent meeting.
You should also consider team meetings, which can be more tactical, plus strategic pow wows on a monthly basis, with senior management and also intra-departmental meetings.
Every fortnight you should consider gathering together for a company retro and review session. It needs to last for around half a day, any more than that and people disengage, whether on Zoom or in person.
The fortnightly meetings should include a show and tell, followed by a group discussion where everyone should be encouraged to contribute ideas. You can vote on which to prioritise using an online tool called Retrium to do this.
Of course you also need one-on-one catch ups, which are less about operations and more to do with checking in with each other.
The importance of documentation
Clearly defining and documenting your processes is absolutely essential, both in terms of the tools you use and how you use them, but also the tasks that need to be carried out.
It is worth regularly updating process maps to help new employees understand the way you do things. This is especially crucial if your business is technical in nature.
Knowledge sharing is also important. Slack and Google Drive are great for this, but there are numerous other tools. The aim should be to help people to find the answers to their questions without having to distract their colleagues.
Focusing on output, not input
Measure output, rather than input. Keeping track of performance and optimising for efficiency is still crucial, but the end goals are what matters most.
Many office-based companies are still anchored to ‘inputs’, most obviously in the form of seeing employees turn up at 9am and work until 6pm. Checking in and out is not something remote-based firms can do easily, nor should they want to.
There’s no point in monitoring people’s keystrokes, as some firms do (unless you are mandated to do this for regulatory purposes). Nobody likes this kind of Big Brother approach.
Instead, thorough planning and goal setting can really help to keep focus on what needs to be done.
Clarity of communication
The ability to communicate clearly and concisely should now be right at the top of your hiring requirements, when interviewing prospective employees. This is certainly not a ‘soft’ skill, but something that can make or break your remote-based business.
Strong verbal and written communication is essential. The ability to quickly communicate thoughts, ideas and feedback is critical, given that we all use the likes of Slack, email, Hubspot and Zoom on a daily basis.
People can learn to be better communicators so do consider training. .
Sharing ownership is an excellent way to align your team, and we’re seeing a lot more remote-based businesses using their equity with this purpose in mind. In fact, recent research discovered that team alignment was the third biggest benefit of running an employee share scheme, after increased employee loyalty and productivity.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Katherine Adams .
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