Managing Large Teams in Different Cities
Being a manager in this modern working world isn’t very easy, is it? Employees expect more than just a decent wage, we’re under pressure to quickly hire the right talent (and train new starters, and retain them), and trickiest of all, we need to manage our teams while they’re working in different locations. But, the good news is that there is plenty you can do to alleviate this last concern. Here’s how to manage large teams in different cities…
Make sure you have the right team members
Firstly, it’s critical that your team consists of the right people. If you’re going to be successful at managing team members in multiple locations, your staff need to be three things: communicative, self-motivated and honest.
Face-to-face contact with your workers may be limited, if it happens at all, so it’s important they’re quick at replying to their emails or quick to pick up the phone.
Also, given the fact that you won’t be physically present to check in on your team members, they’ll need to be self-motivated, hard workers that don’t need prompting to settle down to work or persevere through dips in concentration, energy or enthusiasm.
Most importantly of all, you must be able to rely upon team members to be transparent at all times. You’ll be relying on them to be honest about the hours they’ve worked, what they’ve been working on and how tasks are progressing.
Define your team’s goals
It’s also very important that you define some clear goals for your team if they’re spread across multiple locations. That’s because working in little pockets (in different office blocks, cities or even countries, perhaps) can result in a team feeling like they’re not working towards a common purpose, which can be corrosive for efficiency and success. So, write a set of goals that you expect all team members to be working towards.
These goals or objectives should be SMART if you want team members to be motivated to achieve them, and consider using software and plug-ins to outline and track progress towards these goals. For instance, there are tools you can use for project management, and in many instances you and your team members can communicate within the tool to give feedback on their challenges and successes, and raise any issues that might need dealing with in order to stay on track.
Make a strong communication strategy
Communication is key if your team are working in different cities – especially if they’re working in different time zones, or in different languages! So, come up with an effective strategy. For example, make it a policy to check emails at least twice a day (once mid morning and once in the late afternoon), and consider hosting a team chat on a platform such as Skype too. This way, people can check in with short, to-the-point messages rather than using up valuable time sending unnecessarily lengthy emails.
However, be mindful of technological infrastructure. Some locations may have better internet access than others, better phone service or particular firewalls that prohibit virtual meetings, for instance.
Tune into subtle signs of discontent
Finally, you’ll need to sharpen your managerial skills if you’re going to detect discontent among employees working in different locations. Without seeing your team every day, observing their body language or listening to their conversations, you’re going to need to pick up on subtle cues. For instance, keep an eye out for emails that are shorter or more abrupt than they usually are.
A prolonged dip in output or productivity is also a sign that a team member is flagging, and a reluctance to get on the phone or communicate in other ways is also a sign of problems. Watch out for these signs and take action if you notice anything amiss – that way, your timely intervention could help to keep your team intact and working optimally.