How do you manage a remote team?

Managing freelancers can be a real pain if you have never done it before. It’s also a skill that is not going to be going away. My entire team is remote and I do not see that going away anytime soon.

So, since we are all professionals, let’s talk about how to handle this.

1. Clear communication
When I ask freelancers what they like most about working with and being managed by me, this always comes first. Being able to tell someone what you need, when you need it, how much you can pay for it and how they fit into the equation saves a lot of heartburn down the road.

Hint: if you do not know what you want the freelancer to do, they won’t either.

2. Trust
Despite not being number one, this one is really important to me. I know many of you have a team that may actually be full-time employees, mine is freelancers exclusively, so I will speak to that and I hope you can still glean some information.

I check in on my freelancers, but only to make sure they have everything they need. I have found that giving people space to get the job done pays huge dividends. I understand that their may be nervousness about them getting their work done if not checked in on. My rebuttal: if you are worried about them getting their work done, don’t hire them in the first place.

3. Ask about THEM
I know that our main focus is normally what our team can do for us (it’s a natural response).

I find it crucial that you ask what you can do for your team, too. I think that it shows you care and value them. This not only shows that you are a fellow human and also that you give a rip about them and what they can do.

Part of the reason I became a full-time freelancer is because I felt like no one cared about me or my work. From there, I decided that no one on my team would ever feel that way.

4. Have a set check in
Similar to point number two, this puts time on calendars where you can talk on the phone or Skype about any hiccups or concern. Also, this is a great time to talk about career development or even the employees overall health and well being.

Many of us are driven by the bottom line, we would not have jobs if we were not. People do matter and people who feel like they and their work matters will do things for you and your company that you could not have imagined.

5. Stay on top of things
No one likes to hear “I don’t know where we are at with that”. It can break the trust that we talked about being so important. If you’re managing people, you are most likely plugged into some element of strategy or direction, keep your team in the loop on what matters.

Too much info makes heads explodes, just enough makes productivity explode (in the best possible way).

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Would love to hear fellow managers (and direct reports’) thoughts!


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