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How to Lead a Team When You Manage From a Different Continent

How to Lead a Team When You Manage From a Different Continent
From Recruiter - March 17, 2017

A 2014 surveyfound that most business leaders believe half or more of their employees will be working remotely by 2020. I suppose Im ahead of the curve.

Two years ago, my cofounders and I launched a software company that today is headquartered in New York, about 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) fromand six hours behindmy home in Brussels, Belgium. As the sole member of the management team who is not at the main office, I also oversee a team of engineers in Slovenia and Russia.

As the remote workforce continues to grow, HR teams are adapting to support and engage teams separated by geographic boundaries. Thus far, much of the attention has been on providing support at the employee level, but we should also consider how this trend affects the development of managers, who represent the first order of influence in an engaged and motivated workforce.

Already, most organizations do not provide formal leadership coaching to managers until well into their careers. When managers and employees are remote, this hurdle seems to groweven higher. Here are some best practices Ive gleaned through my experience as a remote cofounder and manager:

1. Use Your Face Time Wisely

Video calls are the single best way to simulate in-person meetings, even if they only reflect a small slice of the day. Given that your time is limited, leaders should be hyper-aware of the energy they are bringing to such calls. Be positive, upbeat, and engaging. In other words: Strive to make a great first impression, every single day.

We all have bad days and bad moments, but its important to keep in mind that how your team sees you on your daily 15-minute check-in will be how they think of you overall. Take two minutes to ask someone what their weekend plans are or how their family is. This will help you avoid transactional calls that can come off as cold or impersonal.

2. When in Doubt, Overcommunicate

Communication is the linchpin of effective remote management. Youd be surprised at how much can get lost in translation when youre not a desk or two over or a short trip down the hall. Dont be afraid to repeat key pieces of feedback or action items. Follow up with written meeting notes if needed.



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