Successfully Managing a Dispersed Team

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By Reneé Zung
March 15, 2022
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Managing people can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges, especially for new managers. It’s important to establish your management style and some boundaries regarding the relationships you have with your direct reports. The COVID-19 pandemic forced managers – new and experienced – to change their style overnight to accommodate a remote workplace. Two years later managers must adjust again to effectively lead a hybrid workforce. As companies navigate the numerous changes in the way work is accomplished resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many are embracing hybrid schedules that allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time, while other companies will remain totally remote. Some organizations will have a combination of work styles with some employees onsite full time, some remote full time, and others on a hybrid schedule.

To be successful as a manager, focus on the essential role: ensuring that your employees have the skills, tools, support, and energy to understand and succeed at their responsibilities and to remain engaged with the organization. Managers provide reviews of team member contributions and areas for development. It’s crucial to provide feedback to employees in the right setting, whether that is in person or via video chat. Ensure your communication and actions are framed positively. The difference between thinking of your job as supporting employee success vs. catching mistakes will help you establish appropriate relationships.

Clear, consistent communication is key to being an effective manager with workforces split across time zones and employment models in a hybrid or fully remote workplace. Set clear expectations and create a cohesive culture built upon trust and working toward a common goal. It is important to establish an effective management approach that keeps employees informed about company and team decisions.

Managing a hybrid workforce has additional challenges when it comes to professional development. Focus on the professional development of those employees that report to you, no matter the location of your team members. Be supportive and focused on development vs. nitpicking and finding everything wrong with your employees’ performance. Effective managers concentrate on the quality of the work produced, rather than how long employees spend at their desks. Managers need to ensure that career progression paths are fair and equal for both office-based and remote staff.

A supportive and understanding management style will help build successful relationships, exceptional productivity, and long-term success with employees regardless of location. Strong managers lead to strong teams that are effective and contribute to organizational goals.

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