If your team is unmotivated and unhappy, the culprit is likely a bad manager – at least, that’s according to a Gallup study that found that one in two employees has left a job due to a toxic manager and that companies choose the wrong people for management 82 percent of the time. And in a remote or hybrid environment? The phrase “people leave managers, not companies” rings even truer after all the new challenges remote and hybrid teams have faced. The situation calls for additional leadership, transparency and empathy from the top. But according to a Microsoft study, one in five workers said their employer didn’t take their work-life balance into consideration. They also found that those with decision-making power ranked their work experience more positively across different factors than those without.
The data shows how imperative it is that managers step up to ensure that their teams aren’t just surviving the current situation but thriving.
Below are a few key areas to focus on.
Onboard your team
Assuming you hired the right candidate, onboarding is going to be critical to get your new teammate up and running.
Create a team-specific onboarding guide
The first thing you’ll want to do is create an onboarding guide beyond what HR shares. Create a team-specific one that lays out things like:
- Your team’s mission/vision
- A recommended list of 1:1s to set up with cross-functional partners (and the location/time zone they’re in)
- Tools they will need to know (ex: Prezi, Airtable, Slack, Confluence)
- Slack channels they’ll need to join and what each one is for
- Weekly meetings they should attend
- Acronyms they might see around the (virtual) office
Get introduced over video
A 1:1 “meet ‘n greet” with a new hire with no context can make for awkward small talk or dreaded intro calls. Start off asking your new hire to record a video intro, and then share it with whoever you think should see it. Ask them to talk about what they will work on, as well as some personal fun facts about what they like to do outside of work. This is a great way to get to know someone even before meeting them, and a more personable way to introduce someone to the wider organization.
Share your ReadMe
A ReadMe is something I learned about in late 2020, and teammates have shared that it’s been one of the most valuable pieces of content they’ve received from me (this is the one that inspired me). A ReadMe covers topics like how you work, how you like to receive praise or areas you want to improve in. I built mine specifically around how I manage and included expectations around communication, deadlines, feedback and personal development areas. It’s a great resource to share with your manager and teammates, as well as cross-functional partners you work with frequently.
Don’t forget about praise
One of the areas I’ve noticed that managers have fallen short is giving their teams enough positive feedback and praise. It’s easy enough to do while passing each other in the office, but a remote setup requires an extra step. Make sure you ask how they like to receive praise (for example, some people don’t like to be celebrated in front of a crowd), and then follow through with it.
The importance of continuous feedback
Feedback is always important, but I’ve noticed during the pandemic that people crave it even more. You’re not getting validation or signals you might otherwise get in person. But feedback — at least when constructive — can be scary for a lot of people. Set up monthly 1:1 “two-way feedback” meetings so that nothing festers on either side. The regularity will make it less intimidating and ensure that feedback doesn’t come as a surprise during the annual review. Make sure to get specific with your requests for feedback; if I get the sense a report feels nervous about “criticizing” me, I ask what I can do differently, as that word comes across as less critical than “better.”
You may need to meet more frequently with your team, especially new hires. I recommend meeting daily with your new hire until they feel more comfortable, similar to what you’d do if you were in the physical office.
Embrace “swift trust”
One concept that managers will have to adopt to set their remote teams up for success is to embrace “swift trust.” Swift trust is defined as the group or team assuming trust initially, and later verifying and adjusting trust beliefs accordingly. In the physical office, we did the opposite. We judged people by observing their behaviors. Did they come in early or stay late? Were they heads down or hanging out by the snacks all the time? These days, we don’t see what any of our teammates do unless they’re on a video call with us. Trust that they’re getting their work done like you are, and your team will be off to a much better start coming from a place of good intention.
Leverage async communication
Your teams should also communicate asynchronously. Be smart about which meetings you have live and which can be a recorded video. Keep the live video calls for the many-to-many communications, and the async videos for the 1-to-many communications. By doing this, we avoid things like video fatigue and working too many continuous hours.
Share what your team is doing
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure you’re publishing team updates so that your team gets recognized, and so that the company is informed of what you’re working on. More communication is always the safer bet in a hybrid or remote workplace. Each week my team publishes a company-wide newsletter called “The Edit.” It highlights the team’s major wins as well as learnings. Pro tip: Each week after publication, I send a Slack message to our team channel highlighting one great thing each person did that week.
Final thoughts on remote and hybrid teams
Being a great manager takes hard work – particularly in a remote setup. By following the tips above, you’ll be off to a great start by keeping open lines of communication with your team, making them feel valued, and showing that you trust them to get the job done.
About the author
Lorraine K. Lee is the Editorial Director at Prezi and a top-rated virtual keynote speaker. She draws from her extensive experience at both Prezi and LinkedIn to help professionals become more productive and successful, whether it’s learning how to be more confident and engaging in video meetings, building a personal brand on LinkedIn or leading virtual teams. Her personable and approachable style draws sizable audiences across Fortune 500 companies, tech firms, top-ranked universities, and more. Lee has an active follower base of more than 300,000 professionals on LinkedIn who regularly turn to her for her insights and expertise.
Looking for more advice on managing your team? Check out this article on maintaining morale during remote work.