7 Important Tips For Successful Remote Team Management
A hands-on and invested manager is the key to any well-oiled team of service providers. Yet, what do you do when your employees work remotely?
Most often within this industry, you'll be in charge of overseeing crews that are working on-site for a client project. This means you don't have the luxury of walking down the hall to check in or looking over someone's shoulder to make sure they're on task.
Today, we're sharing seven team management tips designed for the building services industry. Put these into practice and you'll still ensure a successful outcome, even if your employees are thousands of miles away.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started.
1. Be Clear with Your Expectations
Don't send team members to a job site with vague instructions such as "Get the job done quickly" or "Do your work well."
Rather, put concrete measurements behind these expectations. This way, remote employees won't have to guess at what you meant and they'll have a benchmark to go by. For instance, if you need them to finish up in two months, make sure they know about this 60-day timeline.
Where you can, show visual examples of the work you expect. Or, invest in a workflow management tool that allows workers to check off tasks as they complete them. At the end of the day, the more prepared your team members are, the more likely they are to meet your expectations.
2. Stay in Constant Contact
Out of sight, out of mind? That doesn't work in this scenario.
In many cases, remote technicians are somewhat on their own. They may engage with an inspector, a supervisor who may or may not be on site every day, and their management office once in a blue moon, but that's the extent of it. This can lead to feelings of isolation, burnout, and loneliness that become apparent in their performance.
To combat this issue, engage your remote service teams on a regular basis, sometimes at even more frequent intervals than you contact your in-house workers. Thanks to technological innovation, this aim is easier to achieve than ever before.
Hop on a video call to see how work is progressing on site. Set a morning conference call to check in and go over the tasks for that day. Leverage an online chat tool to talk throughout the day about various issues as they arise.
The key is to use multiple channels to communicate while you're away from one another. This way, even your most remote team members feel as though important and relevant to your organization.
When feasible, try to schedule regular face-to-face meetings, as well. Where you can, align this in-person meeting with a training or coaching program that can bring team members up to speed on the latest news, trends, and developments within the building services industry.
3. Conduct Remote Inspections
Your employees aren't exempt from inspections because they're not in the office. After all, inspections are the cornerstone of any quality assurance process. They make sure your teams are following the scope of work (SOW) instructions and allow you, as the manager, the opportunity to address concerns and praise a job well done.
The best part? Today, inspection software makes it possible for you to inspect a job site in Florida from your office in California. You can even leverage technology to mark up photos by area, editing them to show employees the precise places they can improve.
The key to making this process run well? Stick to data-driven insights that inform rather than judgments that criticize.
Keep the feedback on the inspection reports as positive as possible. In general, employees respond in a negative manner when they're scored against classic grading scales. If their scores aren't where they want them to be, rather than using this feedback as motivation to do better, they become embarrassed, resentful and angry, which lowers the overall morale of your company.
4. Find and Retain Top Talent
The building services industry is unique in that you aren't always looking for the candidate with straight As all through college. What you need instead are hard-working and dedicated employees with relevant experience. When you have a team of these on your side, management is a breeze.
How do you find these prospective team members?
Put out a call for workers who are looking to gain experience in their field, and be careful with how you word the listing. For example, instead of asking for someone with an advanced degree or a set amount of work history, you may explain that your ideal candidate will possess some or all of the following characteristics:
- Utilizes Resources
- Service to Others
- Takes Ownership
Be clear about your employee expectations and make sure to describe the work requirements in an accurate light. The quickest way to lower morale along with performance is to send unqualified technicians to a job site with little instructions.
5. Equip Employees With Technology
Do you expect remote employees to update you on their job status using an outdated flip phone? What about clunky old software or that stack of folders on their desk?
Effective team management begins when you equip your employees with the tools of the trade. Make sure they're working on the latest software release, holding a smartphone, and have access to any other tools they may need to do their job.
If they're waiting 10 minutes for a file to upload, screaming into their phones because they can't hear you over the background noise, and dropping conference calls due to a poor connection, it's time to take action.
The first step? Invest in collaboration tools that make it easy for everyone to get (and stay) on the same page. Then, create processes that can make it easy for employees to use them.
6. Remember The Forest Over The Trees
As a manager, it can be easy to become hyper-focused on goals. Is every employee meeting his or her tasks for the day? This concern becomes exacerbated in the building services industry when you're working far away from your team.
That said, it's important to manage your expectations along with your workforce.
Keep focused on your big-picture aspirations while the day-to-day ones fall into place.
You could stir up undue anxiety and stress by consuming yourself with minute-based updates and create a nervous and hesitant workforce in the process. Instead, trust that if accomplishments occur, then activity is behind it.
Your on-site handymen, for instance, may have a lighter workload on Monday but put in overtime on Thursday. If you measure each day by the action that was accomplished, you may assume your teams are slacking off when in reality, they're working as hard or harder than your internal employees.
7. Grant Mission-Critical Data Access
One way to boost team morale while enabling a successful remote workforce of service providers?
Treat those teams as you would in-house ones rather than making them feel second-rate or outside of the loop. One way to do so? Grant them 24/7 access to your virtual company portal.
Here, they can see, browse and save important client communications, so they're always up-to-speed on any changes. They can also monitor and provide updates for various project milestones, from walkthroughs and proposals to jobs and estimates.
This is a small step on your end, but it can make a major difference in how appreciated and relevant your remote technicians feel. In turn, they're more prone to put in their best efforts when they feel respected and like one of the crew, which they are.
Remote Team Management Tips You Can Use
Though you may not always see them, your remote field technicians, including handymen and cleaners, are there.
They're on the client's job site day after day putting in the manual labor required to fulfill SOW objectives and keep your office satisfied at the same time. As their manager, it's your duty to make sure they're on task and on time.