The Biggest Challenge for Managers – Leading a Remote Team

Most managers are now facing a challenge they never signed up for - leading fully remote teams! This brings new problems to the front, along with the need for them to adopt new skill sets and responsibilities almost overnight. But empowering your managers can be the key to all these problems.

Remote working is the present and the future, at least the foreseeable one. And while it brings with it massive productivity boosts and huge savings, the remote working environment is (still) a culture shock for many. One that requires fresh approaches to solve new problems. 

Primary among those are the problems that haunt the workforce. Regardless of what/ who the problem is, it is the managers who appear to be carrying all the critique. We for one believe they are key to solving people-oriented challenges. And the best way to do that is by empowering them!

But first, we need to understand their most fundamental obstacle – the fact that a large majority of managers all signed up to be managers in a physical environment. And now, with almost no enablement provided, the sudden push to being a remote team manager is a shock to most of them. As per a Harvard Business Review survey, 40% of managers and supervisors expressed “low confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely.” What’s more? 29% of them even questioned their workers’ knowledge base to perform their respective work adequately. Further making it apparent the lack of trust and confidence that the managers have when leading remote teams. 

Before 2020, managers tended to chase and manage the functional targets. Leaving most of the motivating, engaging, coaching, and developing parts to the “people” function. But today, it’s the people-centric leaders that are seen as empathetic and effective managers. While earlier managing KPIs and functional goals prevailed over managing teams, the priority has switched overnight. Managing your remote team empathetically is the winning goal now.  

Speaking of empathy, what managers need to really be aware of, acknowledge, and tackle nowadays is the rise in the number of variables in their team members’ work environment. In the case of office settings, it was possible to get the team into a physical space where they could focus on work. But today, with no specific environment that allows for this focus, the boundaries between work and life are constantly and inconsistently shifting for employees.

Managers now oversee teams that work in duality across multiple dimensions. There are employees who work for long durations and the ones that take frequent breaks. Employees who know how to balance work and life and those who don’t. Some like working remotely while others hate it. The list is endless. Which is why the best way forward for managers is to live, breathe, and practice empathy!

Also, another important area of concern for managers is keeping team interactions alive, informal, and social. Managers have never had to engage their peers at these levels before. So, it makes sense that 41% of them doubt their ability to keep their remote team motivated over the long term. (HBR Survey). This makes it even more crucial for organizations to empower their managers and provide them with the necessary resources, skill sets, and knowledge base. To help them be better functional managers in the remote working space and also good at managing people!

This will be the major challenge for HR leaders in 2021. Our invitation to you is to shift perspectives. Move from looking at managers as problems to looking at them as the catalyst. This will help transform your organization’s culture to Grow Limitless

Feel free to reach out to us for any guidance, if needed! Write to us at [email protected].

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