Whether you’re newly-remote due to the pandemic, or intentionally growing a remote team for your business, any leader will tell you it’s a tough challenge. This applies when you’re all in the same room but especially with distance and time zones between you.
For the last 5 years, Mariela De La Mora has recruited and managed teams across as many as 13 time zones, which has taught her a lot about leadership. Here are her top tips for recruiting and leading high-performing and engaged remote teams, including tools and software to make life easier.
1. Have a Clear Vision and Get Your Team Behind It
Much like inputting an address into Google Maps, your team needs to know what direction you’re heading in so they can collectively help you steer. Make sure they each know the part they play in reaching that vision and remind them often of how important they are.
2. Use Psychographic Questions in The Hiring Process
Psychographics are what makes someone a good fit: their attitudes and behaviors. Ask situational, open-ended questions to gauge their work ethic, sense of initiative and ownership, conflict management and emotional intelligence.
A good question to start with is: “Tell me about a time you had no idea how to do something, and how did you end up solving it?”
3. Recruit Natural Problem-solvers
If you’re not physically together day-to-day, you need to know the team can hold their own and take initiative. They need to be excited about challenges and not be easily flustered.
When you’re remote and not all online at the same time, you want to be assured that they will proactively look for answers before reaching out to you. If they default to asking you first every time, it will only add unnecessary time to a project.
4. Lead Your Team Members According to Their Personalities
This has been a game-changer. There is no one-size-fits-all to leadership, but especially when your team is remote because getting to know each other is more challenging. I have my teams and clients take the DISC Assessment. You may also want to introduce the Enneagram or know their love language! A Type 1 perfectionist may prefer clear instruction whereas a Type 7 creative thrives on being entrusted to add their own spin on things.
5. Use Productivity Tools to Your Advantage
There are lots of tools and software that keep teams on the same page and collaborative. Loom is great for screen recording so that you can show someone what you’re working on, Asana and ClickUp are great for project management, and of course Slack for general communication.
6. Create Opportunities For Team Collaboration and Bonding
It’s especially important to form connections when you don’t see each other face-to-face. In addition to team meetings, schedule in fun activities like you would in an office. Have a Zoom happy hour on a Friday, or a team WhatsApp for chatting about non-work things, or even a Slack channel that’s just for dropping memes to make each other laugh!
7. One-to-one Facetime With the CEO Matters
Not everyone will feel comfortable bringing any struggles or concerns to team meetings or public Slack channels. Make sure you schedule 1:1s with each member of your team – it makes them feel heard and keeps them engaged.
8. Keep a Recurring Schedule
Consistency is key when leading teams, remotely or not. Keep your weekly team meetings and 1:1s at the same day and time each week, so your team knows when they have that time with you. It’s okay if you occasionally need to move things around, or if you don’t need to meet at all some weeks, but blocking that time out is super important.
9. Use The Right Communication For the Message
Email and Slack are fine for giving general feedback about a task. But more sensitive conversations (ie. to do with personal performance) should always happen on Zoom. Words in black and white can be misinterpreted, but a ‘face-to-face’ conversation will always get your message across.
10. Learn When to Step Back
You cannot micromanage everything, especially with a remote team. It’s important to not just delegate tasks, but give your team ownership of them. Ownership will motivate them to do the best job they can because there is more riding on it.
This also goes for when the team is socializing. You won’t always be on every call or on every Slack channel. That is okay. Let the team bond with each other without you always there, as they will be better able to lean on each other for support when needed.
These are Mariela’s top-level insights on how she’s found success in leading a team remotely. If you’re hungry for more, you can listen to her on the TyePod Podcast, where she dives even deeper and shares real examples from her career, including how to navigate having those “difficult” conversations!
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