10 Ways Great Managers Lead Remotely

Do you remember what it was like to be a manager prior to March 2020? There was a big push for direct managers to spend 1-on-1 time with their subordinates so they could get to know them personally and find out what makes them tick. But what does that look like during a pandemic when the workforce is either working remotely or expected to wear masks and keep their distance?

Well, the method looks different, but the purpose remains the same. Here are ten ways great managers can effectively lead, even if doing so remotely.

  1. Great managers communicate with face time.

When you want to create a strong connection with someone, it’s more powerful when it happens in person. You can hear the tone of voice, see the body language, and make eye contact. This is true even when both parties are wearing masks. If in-person meetings aren’t possible, find ways to communicate visually with a remote meeting tool. If neither of those options are available, talk via phone.

When there’s a sensitive message that needs to be shared or you have any feelings of frustration, misunderstanding or anger, talking in person is always the best option. Although email and text messages are quick, the tone is easily misinterpreted. Never text or email in frustration or anger.

  1. Great managers check in regularly and are open to input/criticism.

Especially when working remotely, it’s important that you check in regularly with your team to ensure you’re on the same page and working on the same goals. Listen to your team’s input and validate their thoughts and opinions.

Sometimes things unintentionally come off as offensive. Give your team the option to restate what they just said by saying, “I appreciate you sharing feedback. I would love to hear more of what you are saying.” When employees do criticize you, reshape it in your mind as helpful feedback and thank them for their input. A manager can build trust with their employees when they graciously accept feedback.

  1. Great managers are good coaches.

If you’ve ever silently mumbled, “If it’s going to be done right, I’ve got to do it myself” — then it’s time to improve your coaching skills. Allow your people to grow and develop, even if they don’t do something as perfectly as you. When you’re the only expert, carve out time to train them.

Be a listening coach without being condescending. Your feedback can be kind, yet firm; candid, yet tactful. When it’s necessary to call out an error, be constructive and provide details to help them learn.

  1. Great managers avoid unreasonable deadlines.

Considering the volatile way things keep changing day to day, try to be flexible with deadlines. While priorities should be maintained, any change in priorities or the schedule itself needs to be well communicated, along with expectations and direction.

  1. Great managers are approachable.

If you’ve ever led off with, “This better be important,” then your employees will likely want to avoid coming to you. Respect employees’ time and treat it as though it’s as important as your own. Look for ways where you can encourage employees to be unfiltered and share their insights of what could be better. Each employee carries immense possibilities.

  1. Great managers don’t micromanage.

As a manager, trust your employees enough to share the work with them so they can grow. Give them important and specific assignments for their development. When you try to do everything yourself, this produces little growth for your employees.

A great manager knows how to involve their employees in the process and success of work. If you’re a micromanager and second guessing their work, they’re going to hate their job.

  1. Great managers say “thank you” and give praise.

Positive recognition helps employees stay productive and engaged. Whenever there’s something praiseworthy, let your employee know! Share the kudos with the team and perhaps your entire company in a group email or company intranet post. We all could use a little boost these days, so take time to be thoughtful, specific and genuine with your praise. If you’re looking for more ways to boost morale, read this.

  1. Great managers go to bat for their employees.

It’s easy for things to slip through the cracks when work arrangements are different than normal. If a mistake has been made, try to understand what happened from your employee’s perspective before jumping to conclusions and throwing any blame. When employees who work for or with you make honest mistakes, back them up and support them. Help the employee to use this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop. Your trust and loyalty as a manager will speak loudly if your employees can trust you have their back when under pressure.

  1. Great managers cultivate positive optimism. 

During difficult times, employees need a leader to help instill hope and warmth. Be a manager who displays positive optimism by reaching out to your employees and being concerned for their well-being. Accentuate the positive by highlighting your employees’ wins.

  1. Great managers emphasize long-term goals. 

It’s easier for employees to endure short-term difficulties when they’re able to visualize the future, so maintain a long-term focus on individual achievements, team objectives, and strategic goals. When the future seems bleak and uncertain, employees crave stability and security.

While many occupations have had to creatively rework their norm these last few months, it’s still important that you, as a manager, develop relationships and help your team be successful. For more manager tips, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.

Emily Kranendonk

Author Emily Kranendonk

Emily has a Master’s degree in HR and several years of experience as an HR Generalist, with specialties in training & development and recruiting. While she’s a worldwide traveler that has explored South Africa, Norway, Iceland, and France, she also loves to kayak, paddle board, paint her fingernails, and eat anything with salsa on it.

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