Up close & personal with your team? The toolkit of a remote team manager

20 Mar 2019

Want to reach clients and partners worldwide? These days, it’s never been easier! It’s also increasingly common to bring international experts on board, because it’s perfectly feasible to have people from different countries working on the same project at the same time. And yet, directing this type of international team is still a significant challenge for the team manager.

But how do you tackle this effectively, if you need to manage across borders?

Organise yourself and your team

The first challenge facing a remote manager is of a more practical nature. Because you quite literally clash with the time limits of your employees. If everyone is working in a different time zone, organising a team meeting is a considerable task for the manager. Plus it always takes a little longer to receive a response from the other side of the world.

However fast your internet connection, ironically, communicating in this way is therefore slower. As a manager this is something you need to take into account and closely monitor. It all comes down to organising yourself and your team as efficiently as possible. Sharing calendars and project management software are the absolute basics of seamless international cooperation.

Keep it up close & personal

Remote managers very often communicate with their team via email. But this of course means you lose an important part of the message: your body language. We pick up a huge amount from a glance, a gesture, a facial expression. Do you know your employees well enough to know how they are feeling? When they are, and when they are not, performing at their best?

So: even if you’re not physically in the same place, keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Work on establishing a personal connection through video calls. You don't have to become best buddies, but regularly ask how they are doing, how things are going. And, importantly, make sure you let your staff know when you will not be available.

It is still advisable to organise a ‘live meeting’ on certain occasions, because nothing can replace those opportunities to get to know, not just your colleague, but also the individual behind that colleague a bit better.

Excel with a Team Charter

Sound organisation and communication will get you a long way. But if your staff are not on the same wavelength, your team can never truly excel. That’s why a well-devised Team Charter is just as essential.

An effective Team Charter sets out very specific and clear agreements that are accepted by everyone. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy document, but must address key topics such as:

-        What is our vision? Why are we doing what we are doing?

-        What are the priorities within our team?

-        Who does exactly what within the team?

-        How do we work together? ‘rules of our game’

-        How do we give each another feedback?

-        How do we organise our meetings and our communication?

The most important thing is that the team as a whole produces its own Charter. Because the ultimate goal is for them to become the best version of themselves. That can only happen if each team member is familiar with and respects the agreements, inspiring a connection and commitment. What’s more, a Team Charter is always a work in progress. It is regularly revised and refined, particularly after a change or internal shifts.

Each Team has its own Charter!

Are your staff already familiar with Charters? This tool should essentially be the foundation of each team, certainly for people collaborating at an international level. The meeting at which the Team Charter is drawn up functions as a valuable exercise.

That’s because it encourages your team to think together critically about what needs to happen, what is going well, and what could be better. The team manager plays an important role in this process as moderator/catalyst. But that’s something for a different blog.

Want to find out more? At Mailleux & Associates we have 25 years of experience with multinationals on 4 continents in 44 countries. We have a great deal of experience when it comes to remote management and drafting Team Charters. So feel free to contact us for more information or references!

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