How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team
Remote work was around for many years before the pandemic and resulting shutdowns made it more common across a variety of industries. But there’s no denying that remote work is here to stay – and the banking and credit union industries are no different.
According to research from Credit Union Times, 40% of financial advisor firms will remain virtual beyond the pandemic. And while many banks and credit unions still maintain some form of brick-and-mortar establishments to see customers in person, there are also plenty of options for remote work in these spaces. And managing a remote team is far different than managing a group of people who sit together in the same desk cluster every day.
A new set of management skills is now required of banking and credit union managers. Hiring remote workers is different from hiring on-site personnel; managing remote teams is different from managing people face-to-face.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges involved with managing remote teams. Then, the team at Workway, a leading staffing agency for banks and credit unions, will fill you in on the five secrets for managing remote employees effectively.
Top Challenges of Managing a Remote Team
Managing a remote team, especially one spread across multiple time zones or regions, certainly poses its challenges. Some of the top difficulties involved in managing remote workers and teams include:
Children. Pets. Roommates. Family members. Household chores. There is definitely no shortage of distractions for people working from home. And some people aren’t as good at managing and avoiding those distractions as others. Ideally, a remote worker will have a quiet, distraction-free area of the house to work from, or a full-fledged home office. But the reality is that simply isn’t always the case.
Without team members working together in physical proximity to one another, that accountability to not get distracted disappears. All of the sudden, the possibility of missed deadlines or incomplete work goes up dramatically, and productivity can start to drop if the problem persists.
Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction
When employees work remotely, they are by definition not working face-to-face. Zoom calls and other video chat options can help, but it’s still not a substitute for true in-person interaction. Depending on the team members you have working under you, that could start to affect team camaraderie. Plus, when team members are working alone in their own homes, it can be tough to have everyone feel involved and understand what other team members are working on.
Over time, a lack of face-to-face interaction can make it difficult for collaboration to happen. It can also make bringing on new employees and having them feel like part of the team a tough barrier to overcome.
Another challenge of managing remote teams is the difficulty of tracking productivity. For managers, it’s tough to walk the fine line between remaining engaged and supportive without becoming a micromanager or being overbearing. And big-brother keystroke trackers or screen monitors tend to make employees feel mistrusted – no one wants to feel like they’re being watched while they work all day.
But if you don’t have a way to track productivity, you simply can’t know what your employees are doing on the clock. It also makes rewarding and recognizing employees for going above and beyond that much harder – when you don’t have a sense of how productive someone is being, how can you know when or what to recognize?
5 Tips for Managing Remote Employees in the Financial Services Industry
There’s no question that managing teams of any kind has always come with challenges. And managing remote teams holds the same difficulties that managing in-person ones does – while presenting additional ones. So, what should team leaders be doing to manage remote teams more effectively?
Here are five remote workforce management tips for managing remote teams in the financial services industry:
#1: Establish Clear Communication
One of the main challenges of managing remote teams centers around communication. It’s easy to let communication fall by the wayside when you’re not all sitting side-by-side. But it’s absolutely essential to crafting a well-functioning, effective team. And it starts at the top – with you.
Make your communication guidelines clear to all members of the team, as well as new hires you bring on in a remote setting. Be transparent about:
- How the team communicates (through email, over text messages, through video conferences, on apps like Slack, etc.)
- When the team communicates – are there set meetings? Quiet hours? Don’t forget to keep different time zones in mind.
- Expected turnaround time for communication – when are employees respected to respond to email by?
#2: Hire Remote Workers That Are Self-Motivated
Remember: Hiring remote workers is another half of the battle when it comes to managing remote teams. But hiring the right people can make your life – and job – a lot easier. And a big part of that is finding remote workers that are self-motivated.
Remember earlier when we discussed the many distractions that remote workers face? A self-motivated worker is the best kind of person to manage those distractions effectively – knowing how to avoid them if possible or remain productive in spite of them is a true skillset, and a valuable one when it comes to working remotely. Remote workers need to be great at setting and managing their own schedules and remaining laser-focused on the tasks on their desk.
During interviews, screen for self-motivation by asking targeted questions about how candidates avoid distractions or manage their time. It can go a long way toward hiring the right person, the first time.
#3: Set Milestones to Increase Remote Work Productivity
Recognizing and rewarding employees can be more difficult in remote environments. And productivity is hard to achieve – and track. One way to combat this is by setting specific milestones for your team to reach. For one, this breaks work into more manageable chunks, making it easier to tackle big projects. Secondly, it motivates your employees because there is a goal to work toward – and a reward at the end, if you choose to set one.
The milestones you choose to set are completely up to you. It could be a certain amount of work completed; a number reached; a percentage met. The specifics of the milestone itself are less important than the fact that a milestone exists – it gives your team something to strive for, goalposts to move toward. And having that commonality is especially important in a remote context.
#4: Hold One-on-One Meetings Regularly
You likely held one-on-one meetings with employees when you worked on-site. It’s important to keep this up when you move to a remote work environment. Employees need to remain connected with you, the team leader – otherwise, they will start to feel isolated, and not just physically. Check in with your team members on an individual basis regularly.
Your one-on-one meetings can range from a casual chat to formal performance reviews. It’s important to solicit feedback from your team members to find out what they think of your remote management style, including what’s working well and what could be done better. This will help you improve your own performance and in turn, improve the performance of every worker on your roster.
#5: Avoid Micromanaging Your Remote Workforce
As mentioned above, it can be a fine line between supporting your employees effectively and micromanaging them. But it’s essential that you don’t cross over into micromanagement. If employees feel their work is being picked apart or they’re being watched like a hawk, they’ll quickly become burnt out or disillusioned.
How do you avoid being a micromanager? Restrict yourself to one check-in a day, or one a week, depending on your needs. Trust your employees to do great work – that’s why they were hired, after all. Resist the urge to check over employees’ work unless it’s necessary. Simply reminding yourself of these tendencies and taking steps to curb them is the simplest way to avoid micromanager behaviors and keep your employees happy.
Hire Remote Workers with a Banking Staffing Agency
It’s not easy to find the right talent for your financial institution in today’s hiring market. And it’s even more difficult to find the remote workers who mesh with your team and make a lasting impact on your organization. That’s why it’s beneficial to seek the help of a staffing agency for banks and credit unions like Workway.
We offer temporary, remote, and direct hire recruiting services for financial institutions like yours across the country. With brick-and-mortar locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, we can supply the people you need to make your remote workforce successful, no matter where you’re located.
Want to find the financial professionals with the right experience and self-motivation to work remotely while benefitting your team? Workway can help. Contact us to learn more about our remote staffing services and how we can help your organization succeed.