Starting your own company can be quite difficult and making it thrive even more so, especially when you are trying to manage a company that has employees scattered all over the world, tracking and managing your remote teams isn’t an easy feat and more often than not it results in huge losses of money and time. Finding the right tool to make this management easier wasn’t easy or painless but I found it and now I want to share it with you in the hopes that you won’t suffer as much as I did.
Once you have the right time tracker and time managing software then you can start building a managing strategy that will allow you to monitor and control your teams without affecting their productivity or performance rate. With these 6 simple steps that I’ve tried and proved you can manage your teams effectively and without hindering their work.
One of the most important things to keep in mind as a manager is that your management shouldn’t impact on your team’s productivity; if you are constantly checking on them and asking for updates with more frequency than necessary then they’ll be more involved in giving you feedback than in their actual work. The best way to manage remote teams is to use time tracking software.
With a time tracker you’ll be able to check individual time logs for every employee in your team without having to engage each employee personally. You can simply look up their timesheets and presto! Time management under control. You can team up a great time tracking software with a messaging platform that supports calls and has many other features.
As I go through these easy and quick 6 steps to achieve the best managing strategy, I’ll explain in detail how this duo of time tracker and chat application can help you improve your management of your remote teams. And now let’s move on to the really interesting stuff, my secret formula to successfully manage a remote team, follow these 6 simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful managing campaign.
STEP 1 – FIND THE BEST TIME TRACKER FOR YOUR COMPANY
Find a time tracking software that has the best features for you and your remote teams. PerfQ is the time tracker I use to manage and track my teams because it has a variety of features that other time managing softwares lack.
Once you have a time tracker you can begin to truly monitor and control your teams by checking their timesheets and logs in order to see who is working and who isn’t. The hardest part of managing remote teams is knowing who is committed to the job and who is doing the bare minimum. A time trackers allows you to see every employee’s time and decide who is fit to work for you and who needs a permanent vacation.
If you don’t follow any other steps in this list at least follow this one, a time tracking software or managing tool is the tool you need to track and monitor your remote teams, my tracker has a lot of features that make monitoring teams easy and painless. Along with the time managing software you’ll need a chat application, personally I use Skype and Slack, this is the best way to stay in touch with your teams and to make sure they can communicate with each other in order to make working together easier and simpler even though each employee may be on different time zones.
STEP 2 – PRIORITIZE YOUR TASKS AND ORGANIZE YOUR DAY
As a manager you want to be in every meeting, every project and task but this isn’t very efficient. It’s time to start organizing your schedule and give high priority to the most important tasks you need to accomplish. I know sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which projects and tasks should be completed first and this is how prioritizing can help.
Set priorities in regards to clients and projects, are there any time sensitive projects? Those should be a priority; clients with zero patience? Make them a priority; clients with big long term projects? These could probably be “low priority” because you may have more time to complete the tasks related to their projects. It’s all about knowing your business and putting everything in perspective of what needs to be done first and why.
Once you have your priorities straight you can very easily organize your schedule and set up daily tasks that need to be completed for each project under your supervision. Make sure you stick to your daily schedule and give yourself goals to accomplish each day, and don’t allow other less important things to shift your focus from your daily goal.
Bonus Tip: Make sure your employees and project managers also stick to a daily schedule, there are features in GoogleDocs that allow you to create a sheet or document where each employee can fill out his or her daily assignments and goals; this way everyone is working on specific tasks and project managers can go over the sheet to see who’s sticking to it and who isn’t.
STEP 3 – USE EVERY ASSET AVAILABLE TO YOU: DELEGATE
As a boss it’s extremely difficult to leave anything in someone else’s hands because you need to be in control of everything and on top of every project but the truth is that you can’t do it all and that’s why you’ve hired a team of professionals to help you develop your projects and give the best customer care to every client.
I know how difficult it is to set aside your OCD ways and allow others to take charge of tasks that are “yours”, but you need to do it if you want to maximize your productivity and the overall performance of your company. Trust that these people you’ve hired are capable of running things smoothly while you give your attention to the most relevant projects and tasks.
Appoint people you trust as project managers for each of your teams; this way you only need to check in on them to know how a project is moving along and if there are any issues that need your attention. Make sure you trust these people enough to give them room to work and make decisions regarding the projects they are managing. You need to especially trust them to deal with clients; this way you won’t have to micromanage every project and interact with every client on a daily basis.
STEP 4 – SCHEDULE DAILY AND WEEKLY MEETINGS
In order to manage your teams more efficiently you need to communicate constantly with them but you must do it in an organized way in order to avoid interrupting their work and throwing off their workflow. The best way to do this is to organize meetings, both daily and weekly, with your teams. I realized that having daily meetings with each of my employees was a waste of time because they don’t always have daily updates. Instead, I figured out that I need to have daily meetings with my project managers and only talk to my teams as a whole once a week.
Project managers are in charge of managing the different teams that are working on all the projects your company has. If you meet with them once a day they can give you an update of the team as a whole and the project’s progression. This is cost-effective and efficient because you’ll have daily reports of all your employees just by meeting with three or four of them and meeting with teams as a whole once a week gives you an opportunity to hear from your employees about the different projects they have and it allows you to stay in touch with your employees.
Of course I wanted to stay on top of everyone and everything at all times, talking to clients and employees as much as possible but I soon realized that this wasn’t productive for me or for my employees; I needed to shift my focus to other more important tasks and my employees didn’t need the distraction of infinite calls and messages asking them how a project was progressing or why this and that wasn’t ready yet. They needed to be left alone, up to a point, and be allowed to work. As soon as I started implementing my weekly and daily call system I saw an immediate boost in the company’s overall productivity.
Friendly Reminder: My time tracker allows me to check up on my employees without actually having to talk to them or disturb their work, this is one of the perks of using time tracking software. So, don’t fret about not being able to check in with each employee every day because you can go to the time tracker’s site and look up each employee’s daily screenshots of their work.
STEP 5 – KNOW YOUR TEAM AND THEIR LIMITS
As a team manager you need to know your team pretty well, especially their limitations, in order to know how far you can take a project with every member of your team or if you’ll need someone else to complete it on time for the client. Understanding your limitations and those of your team allows you to manage all your company’s projects better, because you can immediately know who is the best person for each job.
Knowing your team’s limits also allows you to understand and control how far you can push them. It’s true that putting a little pressure on your employees drives them to be competitive and try to achieve their goals faster and better than everyone else but it’s essential to know just how far you can push them. The last thing you want is to give them an inferiority complex or to make them dread your calls because they know you are just going to yell and scream at them for all the things they did wrong. Being a manager it’s very much like being a father, even if you are a woman, because the best father figures are tough and strict but also supporting and they give you confidence. I suppose mothers do that as well but in my life it was my father who drove me to achieve things and to dream big so we’ll go with father figure because that was my experience.
A good manager knows when to push and encourage an employee to give their best, and also when to back down and give them some room, sometimes people just need room to breathe and think in order for their work to improve. The high stress push approach may work with a lot of people but some truly need the opposite in order to succeed. I know it’s a competitive business and stress it’s part of the deal but there are ways to make situations less stressful for your employees, especially for those you know that can’t deal with stress very well.
Once you start treating your employees as they deserve to be treated, not with kid gloves but with understanding and support, they’ll become more loyal to you and your company than ever before and they’ll want to help the company succeed and expand. By taking the time to know your employees you are ensuring that they’ll care for the company as much as you do, and this is what you need from them, this is how you make them invest themselves in the company and not just the salary.
STEP 6 – DON’T BE A HELICOPTER MANAGER: STOP HOVERING!
Your teams can’t function properly if you are constantly in their ears or screens trying to micromanage every little aspect of their work. This step ties in with the previous 5 in the sense that they all require you to trust and allow your teams to flourish and blossom without the need of having you looking over their shoulders. Productivity increases when people are in stress free environments and having your boss calling you every 5 minutes it’s not the most relaxing thing in the world.
As terrible as it sounds you need to stop hovering over your teams and focus on your own tasks, let them work. If you absolutely need to speak to your team about an update or an issue with a specific project then talk to the project manager, they’ll give you a quick response without disturbing the team’s workflow.
Of course you need to be on top of them to make sure things are getting done but that’s what your time tracking software is for, to supply the necessary information you need in order to analyze the productivity of your company as a whole and of each individual employee. But that’s what the daily and weekly meetings are for, to supply daily and weekly updates on all projects handled by your company.
There you have it! 6 easy steps to follow in order to become the best team manager you can be and make the management process easier for you. These tips have worked for me and I stand by them 100% but you may find that you need to alter a couple of things in order to make them your own and use them. Take them as a guideline, keep the general principle of them but adjust them to your particular company, team and attitude.
There are some things that you should keep in mind even if you decide to change the steps a bit; the time tracker is absolutely essential for your company to use in order to not only make daily tasks easier but to bill clients the right amounts for the hours worked on their projects and to monitor the company’s performance; something you can’t compromise on is your team managers, don’t give this position to just anyone because it needs to be occupied by a person you trust who can do the job and has the authority to be respected by their team. The last thing you should never forget is to appreciate your employees and make sure they are happy in their positions; they are the face of your company and a disgruntled employee can cost you a big client if you are not monitoring the situation.
Many people believe that managing teams -especially remote teams- is a walk in the park, but it can be truly stressful and difficult if you don’t have a plan of action, and strategy. This is what the 6 steps are for, to outline a management plan that will need to have your personal touch added to it. They worked perfectly for me as they are because they adjust to my personality, to my team and to my company. That’s it for now, I hope this helps you to simplify your management techniques… Until the next time!