Content marketing, SEO, online marketing, social media marketing, IT … all of these industries and functions have one factor in common that has become more and more prevalent: mobile staff.
Having the option to telecommute allows firms to hire the best talent from across the globe – and provides employees with flexibility to work when they’re most productive, where they’re more productive. However, on the flipside, management can encounter some difficulty in maintaining a staff of individuals who live on different ends of the earth.
Being a Quality Manager
Regardless of if your staff is centralized in one building or dispersed across various nations, there are characteristics of a good manager that stay constant, regardless of situation. According to Lynda.com’s “What Is Management?” course taught by Britt Andreatta, good management is “the use of key skills and practices to help the organization reach its highest potential.”
A good manager will know how to balance being a leader versus being a manager. The former refers to the role a person takes when promoting growth and change in a company, while the latter refers to promoting order and consistency so that goals can be achieved and tasks can be completed.
In order to be the highest quality manager possible, an individual must understand the five main roles that managers hold – and how to prioritize them. These roles, as described by Lynda.com, are:
1. Producer – Produces desired results and achieves goals through tasks.
2. Administrator – Administers policies and procedures so the organization runs efficiently.
3. Innovator – Taps into creativity and innovates new solutions.
4. Mediator – Helps employees work through conflict.
5. Culture Builder – Builds a work environment that supports both the staff and the goals of the organization as a whole.
Establishing Trust and Building Relationships
One key aspect of being a great manager is gaining the trust of your staff. This can be tricky to do when your team doesn’t work in the same office as you, but the methods that can be used to establish trust and prove integrity are still relevant (info via Lynda.com):
- Be full of integrity – follow through and keep your promises, and take responsibility for your actions
- Share your values – be open about your values so that your staff can see if you live up to them, proving your integrity
- Make ethical choices
- Be a good listener – don’t judge!
- Be honest – even if it’s not necessarily something the other party wants to hear
- Respond to feedback – even if it’s hard to swallow
- Make it safe to take risks – how else will the organization be able to grow if your staff doesn’t feel comfortable enough to try something new?
Pointers Specifically for Managing Remote Employees
When working with a remote team, you have a unique set of challenges to work through in order to maintain a functioning and flourishing department. Here are a few methods, via Lynda.com, that can help you maximize your team’s success:
1. Support your remote employees with the resources and technology they need (e.g., Internet access, cell phone, required software, etc.).
2. Measure your remote employees’ work by deliverables rather than activities (i.e., focus on the outcome).
3. Do your best to include remote employees in all communication and activities (e.g., connect via phone or Skype so they can listen in on an important meeting).
4. Support a healthy work-life balance for remote employees. Studies show that remote workers tend to put in more time than employees who work in a traditional setting. Don’t let your remote staff burn out!
As the manager of a remote team, I fully understand the disjointed feeling that can occur if an effort isn’t made to keep mobile staff up to speed on what’s going on with the organization. Be sure to take the time and spend the energy to stay connected with your remote employees. It will help to keep your team strong, productive and thriving.
Katrina Robinson is Media Shower’s Managing Editor of Promotions. She has been in the content marketing industry since 2007.