9 Expert Tips For Managing a Remote Team

9 Expert Tips For Managing a Remote Team

The workplace is changing. The water cooler
where you shared the latest celebrity gossip and ranted about that last season
of Game of Thrones? That’s a Slack channel now. The meeting room where you
gathered your team to brainstorm strategy on the office whiteboard? Now just a
video chat with a screen sharing option.

The internet has enabled workers from around the globe to come together and be productive in ways that simply weren’t feasible 20 years ago. In fact, 70% of white-collar professionals work remotely at least once a week now. Despite the upsides of having remote teams, managing them and maintaining the same level of collaboration as you see with a traditional office can be a job in and of itself.

After seeing how hundreds of successful businesses manage their remote marketing apprentices and working firsthand with remote teams myself, I’ve gathered their best advice to help you get the most out of your remote team.

Bonus: Acadium apprentices help you with your marketing, unpaid, as part of their training. For a limited time, Jeff Bullas’ readers get $50 off their first credit purchase.

#1. Respect office hours

When working from home, it’s easy for the lines to blur between work and relaxation time. In the digital age we live in, it’s easy for any working professional today to feel a pull to always be connected and ready to be productive when the need arises. For remote workers, this erosion of the boundaries between when you should be working vs. when you should be taking time for yourself becomes even more prevalent, due to the fact that your entire relationship with your job is digital. In fact, remote workers have reported that their number one struggle with being a remote worker is the inability to unplug after work.

If you want your remote team to be happy and
productive during work hours, then you have to give them time for themselves
outside of those hours. Be clear with what hours your team is expected to work
between and be mindful about respecting those hours and not messaging them or
tasking them with projects during their free time.

#2. Meet face-to-face

There’s no way around it – communicating online can often be cold and emotionless. No matter how much time you spend finding the perfect emoji or reaction gif to convey how you’re feeling, the sentiment often gets lost when compared to face-to-face interactions.

Even though your team might not be able to meet up with you in person, that doesn’t mean you still can’t have face-to-face interactions. Communicating as much as possible through video chats can help you properly convey tone, build relationships with your team, and help you read their emotions better.

Find a video calling tool that works best for you and make it part of your culture to utilize that tool whenever possible. Even if it’s for a quick check-in for clarification on a certain task, video calling will help you communicate more effectively and more efficiently than through text. Just be sure to send a quick summary of the meeting after the fact so that your team can reference it if need be.

#3. Give them room to breathe

Arguably, the biggest perk for remote workers is the flexibility it provides. As tempting as it is to micro-manage your remote team to ensure they are on the right track, you don’t want to stifle this benefit for them and make them feel like they are constantly being monitored.

Give your remote workers time to do what they are there for – work. If you’ve done your due diligence in the hiring process then you employed them for a reason. Give your remote team enough space to do what they do best. Yes, checking in is important and it’s understandable that urgent matters sometimes come up and need to be addressed immediately, but for day-to-day productivity, give them some room to breathe.

#4. Focus on goals

Of course, we all want our team to work hard and get the job done. When you’re not working in close proximity to the team you’re managing it’s easy to be anxious about their activity. At the end of the day, does it really matter if they were online and working at every moment of their working hours if the job gets done and gets done well?

Don’t focus on hours worked, focus on results. Set clear goals for your team and rather than checking in to make sure they are working towards those goals, make sure they are hitting those goals. Outline clearly what the expected outcomes are, define clear KPIs, and only when team members start missing those goals should you be on their case about their work habits.

#5. Don’t overlook onboarding

Believe it or not, it’s still possible to
foster a particular culture when your team is primarily remote. Of course, in a
traditional office environment, the onboarding process and adoption of a
culture is a bit more of a natural process. When you’re dealing with a remote
team, it’s important that you have a clear onboarding process that you can
optimize over time. You want your team members to be aligned regarding the
processes and expectations for your team and you want to ensure that they are
complying.

Spend the time to build a thorough onboarding
package that you can give to all new hires. Set out clear expectations for the
first month, first quarter, and beyond. Hold new hires accountable to these
expectations. What works for some people might not work for others, so try to
build materials that suit all learning styles and check in periodically to see
how new hires are adopting these practices and meeting your expectations.

In exchange for your coaching and guidance, Acadium apprentices help you with your marketing, unpaid, as part of their training. For a limited time, Jeff Bullas’ readers get $50 off their first credit purchase.

#6. Invest in the right tools

Staying organized is a big challenge for a lot of remote teams. With everyone working in different locations and, often, at different times, keeping everyone on the same page can be difficult.

Thankfully, there are a number of tools online that you can use to manage your team. Pick the right tools that fit your needs and make sure that your whole team is using them. They might cost a little bit of money but the results can be well worth it in terms of keeping your team organized and connected.

For project management and keeping track of weekly goals, you might want to use something like Trello.

For video calling, Zoom could work for you. For managing files, you might go with Google Drive. Take time to research what tools you may need and test them out before getting your whole team set up and using them.

#7. Build relationships

You might hate office small talk, but it’s a great way to build relationships and trust amongst your team. Because you’re not working in the same space together, taking the time to build relationships may be more of a proactive effort rather than a passive one.

When hopping on a call with a team member, ask them how their weekend was, chat about that horrible Netflix movie you watched the other night, ask them what life in their city is like. Making the effort to get to know your team on an informal basis can get them to trust that you are there for them. This helps them feel more accountable when their actions will make a positive impact on someone they know and care about.

#8. Get together

If it works logistically and you have the
money to spend, try to get the team together physically at least once a year.
Be it a conference that you all meet up at, a team-building retreat, or a group
vacation, getting your team to meet in person can go a long way towards making
them feel like an actual team.

At Acadium, we get the team together for a company-wide retreat twice a year. They spend the week together relaxing (and working) alongside a business coach, personal chefs, and members of the remote team. The retreat brings the team closer together and teaches them new strategies for working and collaborating with each other.

#9. Acknowledge accomplishment

With freelancers and marketing apprentices, in particular, it’s easy to see them and their work as a means to an end. Don’t get trapped into forgetting that these people are just that – people. Give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge wins. If someone is going above and beyond, give them some praise in a public Slack channel. You will find that doing so will not only boost morale but encourage team members to strive towards these wins.

Bonus: Acadium apprentices help you with your marketing, unpaid, as part of their training. For a limited time, Jeff Bullas’ readers get $50 off their first credit purchase.

Guest author: Ryan Byrne is the Content Team Lead at Acadium. He is also an overly-caffeinated film and #CDNPoli junkie.

The post 9 Expert Tips For Managing a Remote Team appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

The Universal Translator: How Marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders

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Star Trek is one of my favorite franchises. It’s a beacon to guide humanity to a brighter future: One without wars and scarcity, dedicated to discovery and enlightenment. 

(Can you tell I really loved the Picard series premiere?)

Poster for the Star Trek series Picard
(He has a PIT BULL named NUMBER ONE.) Photo Credit: CBS

But the best tech in all of Star Trek isn’t the transporter, the replicator, or even the holodeck. It’s the universal translator, a gizmo that can process language in real-time and convey every nuance and idiom.

We have a similar technology right now, but… well, it could use some work.

“Shivers down my spine” turns into “chicken skin?” That kind of margin of error would cause some serious diplomatic crises in Starfleet.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Google Translate. Sometimes people speaking the same language have trouble communicating with each other.

Marketers are good at speaking marketing-ese, for example. But within our team we likely have multiple dialects, and that causes communication troubles. And when we step outside of the marketing department? Well, we’re back to flipping through a phrase book, asking “Dónde está la biblioteca?”

Here are a few pointers that can keep your marketing team from getting lost in translation.

Tips for Fostering Better Communication with Stakeholders in 3 Key Departments

#1: The Marketing Department: Build a Shared Dictionary

Marketing is a multifaceted discipline these days, and you’re likely working with a diverse team to cover all the necessary skill sets. There’s the more technical-minded SEO folks, the more creative (but still strategic) design and content people, and of course the project managers who make it all work.

Odds are, each specialty has its own lexicon. For example, our SEO and content teams have one definition for power page:

Power Page [ pou-er peyj ] (n): A comprehensive, 2,000 word or more content asset that aims to be the best answer for a group of search queries.

However, for account managers (the ones communicating with clients), a “power page” was a page designed to convert — what content folks would call a “landing page.”

This misalignment in terminology was confusing for all of us. Once we sat down and agreed on common definitions, we were better equipped to give account managers what they were looking for, and keep our clients happy.

via GIPHY

I’ve found it’s valuable to have regular meetings with marketing team members in different specialties. Take a few minutes to understand what they do and the terms they use. The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. 

[bctt tweet=”The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. – @NiteWrites #B2BMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2: The IT Department: Use an Objective & Solution-Based Framework

Of course, getting all of marketing speaking the same dialect is the easy part. What happens when you have to talk tech with the IT department? 

For example, if there’s a shiny new martech solution you’d really like to implement, or if your design team needs to use Macs in a PC-only environment, you might have a hard time making the case.

Your IT team is likely highly opinionated on these issues, but what seems like stubbornness is just practicality. They need to have a controlled, secure environment. If you sneak in your own solutions to avoid confrontation, you can compromise the work they’re doing. It’s better to try and speak in terms that will resonate with their needs.

Keep the conversation grounded in objectives. Talk about the capabilities your team needs to have, and be able to explain why they matter. It helps to understand at least a bit of the IT architecture already in place.

If you’re talking about adding a new solution, make sure your vendor equips you to handle objections from the IT team. Even better, involve IT in the search process — don’t try to bring them in at the end when you’ve already decided on a solution.

#3: The C-Suite: Leverage Storytelling & the Bottom Line

Even more so than getting IT on the same page, marketers can find it challenging to communicate with the executives who set budgets and make purchase decisions. In a recent interview, Zari Venhaus shared her tips for speaking a language that resonates with the C-suite.

“If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari says. “We had to learn how to storytell.”

[bctt tweet=”If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. – @zvenhaus on storytelling for stakeholders #B2BMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Zari’s team was able to use the same skills that make for great Content Marketing — empathizing, knowing your audience, and telling a compelling story — to address their internal audience. (We highly recommend you tune in to her full interview below; great stuff in there.)

Ultimately, with the C-suite it comes down to proving the value of your marketing in concrete terms. That means connecting your marketing initiatives to revenue and ROI, whether it’s raising awareness or investing in new automation tools. It’s one thing to say, “With this tool, we’ll be able to increase conversion rates by .53%,” and another to say, “This tool will have a 135% return on investment within three months.”

Become a Universal Translator

We marketers are skilled communicators and strategists. We’re good at getting the right message to the right people in a way that inspires action. The key to good internal communication is treating our team members and stakeholders like our customers.

That means first getting our messaging nailed down and consistent throughout the marketing team. Then it means delivering relevant messages — offering value, even — to the rest of the organization in terms that are meaningful to each stakeholder.

As Jean-Luc himself would say: 

Jean-Luc Picard says Make It So

The post The Universal Translator: How marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.