If you want to re-energize employees in a remote working setup, then you must prevent or stop micromanaging. It’s an important lesson that all management members need to learn especially since remote working is a growing trend all over the world.
The fact that remote working has become so popular is a good thing since it allows you to be flexible and cast your hiring net into the global talent pool. Employee satisfaction also improves because your team can skip the hassle of commuting on some or most days. However, as an employer or manager, it can be tricky coming to terms with a remote working arrangement.
That may be because you’re used to dealing with your team in an office setup where you can see everyone. Therefore, you feel the need to constantly look over your team’s shoulders or check in with them regularly even when they are miles away.
This type of management style is called micromanaging, and it’s common in remote working setups. With your team all over the place and out of sight, it’s not surprising that you may feel like you’re not in control even when you are. As a result, you might end up exhibiting “control freak” behaviors that can strain your relationship with your team.
This is the exact opposite of what managers or business owners are supposed to do. Your company or organization benefits the most when you’re able to effectively re-energize employees and create a positive work environment even outside the office. Here are some tips to help you kick that work from home micro management syndrome to the curb.
How to identify the signs of remote working micromanagement
If you’re a virtual micromanager, you may be guilty of the following things:
Do you require team members to run everything by you before they can execute any task? Perhaps you want to be cc’d on every work-related email so that not even a scrap of information escapes your notice. All it shows is that you’re not comfortable giving your team the measure of control they need to successfully complete their work.
Too many meetings
There's nothing wrong with wanting to be kept in the loop, but sometimes you can get in the way of getting company work done. In a similar vein, things like requesting multiple reports in a short space of time mean employees are downing their tools to hash things out with you.
Overscheduling and trying to dictate everything
A common micromanaging symptom is wanting to give your team overly meticulous task lists or itineraries to follow. This communicates the message that you don’t trust each employee to navigate their daily schedule.
These and other micromanagement signs can lead to a toxic work environment that results in low morale, employee burnout, increased turnover, lack of innovation, and decreased productivity.
How to prevent micromanagement on a remote working setup
As a business owner or supervisor faced with remote management responsibility, there are many things you can do to stop micromanaging.
Get familiar with navigating common telecommuting challenges
You have to gain an understanding of the problem before you can beat it. In a remote working setup, the main challenges you’ll face are problems with communication.
You can no longer stroll past employee workstations or have a quick face-to-face chat to resolve issues. Remote working employees are not always available to respond instantly to your emails, chats, or texts which can be frustrating if you’re looking to get things done at that moment.
Another thing is that virtual communication can be impersonal, so it’s easy to experience a communication breakdown if a particular message is interpreted wrongly. Additionally, keep in mind that when employees are working from home, they may have plenty of distractions such as noisy kids, so you’ll need to be patient if they get held up once in a while.
Set clear boundaries to maintain productivity in a remote working situation
While remote working has its benefits, it only makes sense if productivity standards are maintained. For instance, you can implement a policy that states that all employees must respond to work-related emails within 24 hours of receiving them.
There must be a system in place to also measure employee performance. As an example, employees may need to complete a certain quota of their assigned workload within a fixed number of hours. The best way to do this is to invest in a software or app that can track the hours logged in by employees during work times. This allows you to spot and quickly solve any issues that may negatively affect employee productivity.
Invest in the right remote working tools
Remote management can only be effective if you provide your employees with the necessary tools for a smooth workflow. Take the time to figure out what needs to be in place in a telecommuting work environment.
This isn’t hard considering that remote employees have needs that don’t differ much from what’s required by onsite employees. For instance, basics that need to be covered include office stationery, subscriptions to software programs, and other supplies.
When it comes to telecommuting technology, make sure team members have working computers, stable internet connections, mobile phones, and headsets, at the very least. Be sure to consider cybersecurity and data safety issues when setting up your remote working environment.
Schedule specific times for check-ins
Too many back and forths can hamper productivity but you’ll need to strike the right balance by ensuring there are set times for team interactions. How to reach out and when depends on your particular set-up but don’t just view check-ins as a way to track employee progress.
It can also be a great opportunity to re-energize employees to keep them motivated and engaged.
The bottom line
Leading a remote team can be tricky especially if you develop trust issues. As a business owner or manager, you might be tempted to micromanage. However, as long as productivity levels are maintained, you must give your remote team the space they need to keep things going.
To be an effective leader you need to re-energize employees and create a positive remote working environment instead.