Managing a remote team requires a different approach. Use these eight tactics to ensure your remote team is a high performing team.
Thirty-five percent of employees said the number one perk they'd leave a job over is the ability to work remotely full-time, yet only 12 percent said their employer allows it.
According to a 2016 FlexJobs survey, Millennials show a stronger preference for working at a coffee shop, co-working space, library, or other places besides the office than other generations. Yet Millennials report having to stay at the office to do work at a much higher rate.
As the popularity and practicability of remote working grows, expect the emerging generations to gravitate towards employers or industries that offer remote working. In fact, 82 percent of Millennials say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
8 Tactics to Get the Most out of Your Remote Millennial Workers
1. Hire Right
The best way to set yourself up for success when it comes to managing a remote team is to hire the right and best talent for the job. (Read this to learn how to avoid hiring poor Millennial talent and read this for interview steps to hire better Millennial talent.)
2. Outline Expectations
One of the benefits of a remote team is that employees can be reviewed and rewarded based on performance (output) rather than attendance (input). This dynamic makes the buy-in of the expectations easier for the remote team.
Because remote work is less structured than on-site work, clear expectations are critical. Make the following clear to your remote Millennial team.
- Company mission and vision
- Expected number of working hours per day and week
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Weekly, monthly, and yearly goals
- Communication cadence (how often does communication need to happen)
- Tools and resources to be used
- Which tasks or projects they own
- Who and when to contact for help/support
- Management availability (when, where, and how to be reached)
- Team availability (when, where, and how to be reached)
Remote working works best when there are clear expectations and trust. Clearly outline the expectations and offer the necessary autonomy and trust for Millennials to execute.
3. Connect Consistently
When working with remote teams, if you're not connecting consistently, days will turn into weeks and weeks into months, and before you know it you have an isolated team that is disconnected from the organization's goals and mission.
In the absence of consistent communication, research shows that Millennials react more negatively than previous generations.
Schedule predictable, reoccurring, and agreed-upon meetings. It's also important to make check-ins more conversational than the daily project updates or briefings you might conduct over email or chat. This will help to build rapport and keep communication open.
Consider having a designated hour each day or once a week where the whole team is expected to be online working at the same time regardless of time zones (if possible). This allows the team to collaborate or help each other out in a unified and predictable way.
Lastly, an "open door policy" doesn't work for a remote team. Instead, remote managers might consider an "open status policy" where they keep their online status (busy, away, available, etc.) accurate so that remote employees know when they can connect with you.
4. Communicate Strategically and Transparently
When communicating with remote Millennial employees, every communication has to be used strategically, delivered transparently, and sent via the right channel.
Here is a quick guide on how to use today's primary communication channels.
- Email: exchanging objective and brief information.
- Chat: announcements, general news, team conversation, informal conversing, and socializing.
- Skype (video): detailed, focused, feedback-rich, long, emotional or difficult conversations.
- Phone: detailed, long, emotional or difficult conversations. (Phone should be the last resort if video chat is unavailable.)
Ensure transparency throughout your communications. The more informed the remote Millennial team is, the easier it is for them to be productive and autonomous.
Create transparency with how and where information can be accessed. Making the same information available and easily accessible allows the team to function as a single unit. Google Docs, Dropbox, or other file-sharing services can be leveraged to streamline and consolidate the consumption and sharing of important information across the remote team.
5. Track Proactively
As remote workers, Millennials are seeking autonomy and independence so giving them the responsibility to track and measure progress is empowering for them.
Invest in the right software and technology to track progress effectively. Time trackers (such as HubStaff, When I Work, or Time Doctor) help to boost accountability and allow for easy tracking of the time worked.
Employees can also share screencasts (image or video recording of a computer screen) of their completed or pending projects for managers to review. It's often easier to communicate this way than in writing. Also, consider task management and activity tracking tools IDoneThis and Asana to review what the team and individuals are accomplishing.
Be sure to apply the same metrics to the entire team. Remote Millennial workers will want to know they are not being treated or tracked differently.
6. Monitor Well-Being
Remote workers can have a harder time setting boundaries between work and personal. Many managers fear that the independence of a remote worker will lead to laziness and slacking off.
David Heinemeier Hansson, New York Times Bestselling author of Remote: Office Not Required, says, "the greater danger is for [remote] employees to overwork themselves and burn out. It's the manager's responsibility to guard against this outcome."
Ensure employees are maintaining work-life harmony and taking the appropriate time for themselves. Consider using a tool like CultureAmp to stay ahead of employee satisfaction and engagement. CultureAmp enables new hire surveys, onboarding, employee engagement surveys, single-question polls, and more all delivered via web or mobile to satisfy the savvy Millennial worker.
7. Cast Vision
Remote managers who fail to connect remote workers efforts with the big picture, risk employees feeling unimportant and isolated.
Consistently map the work of the remote employees with the organization's objectives. Vision leaks inside every organization so make it a priority to routinely communicate the "why" of the organization and team. A compelling and clearly defined vision also helps a remote team to establish common ground with each other over the shared vision.
Mapping the business progress to individual tasks and team effort is key to motivating remote Millennial workers.
8. Leverage Technology
Today's tech tools have made it easier than ever before to collaborate and communicate with a remote team. It's highly likely that if you're managing a remote Millennial team, they will be very digitally savvy and highly interested in leveraging technology to work smarter, faster, and better. (Read this for 16 tools to help you better manage remote Millennial workers.)
As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.