Ready to take on the world?
Well, you won’t be doing it alone. You need a team behind you. And in today’s labour landscape, these workers are probably working in different corners of the globe—remote professionals.
The challenge for you then is not how to manage them from a great distance, (that’s easy, tech has got you covered), but to manage them in such a way that you have a productive and fiercely motivated team aligned with your goals.
How exactly are you going to do that?
Here are 5 foolproof ways to turn ordinary remote workers into rockstars:
1) Find the hidden stumbling blocks.
You definitely saw something in your guy, that’s why you hired him. But as of late, he’s not performing as expected.
Maybe his family is going through something.
Maybe his home environment is not conducive to productive work.
Maybe he has too much on his plate.
In order to unleash the full talent of employees, you need to help jettison the things that weigh them down. But especially in a remote situation, it might prove a challenge to uncover, much less remedy.
But here are the things that you can do:
- Deep dialogues—This is different from the regular virtual meetings that your team does. This is not about work per se, but issues related to work. This is everything on the table, no judgments talk. You need to ask hard questions and encourage them to air their side. Use these discussions to draw insights into the challenges faced by your team.
- Surveys—Not everyone will pour their heart out just because you ask them. Send out surveys instead. This data-gathering instrument, will be more amenable to some and elicit the issues you will not hear in the meetings or read about in emails.
- Anonymous feedback system—Surveys will be limited to the questions you ask and when you ask them. This will remedy those limitations and can catch those issues that are continually evolving.
2) Provide “stretch assignments.”
There are the normal tasks that your guy does on a regular basis.
Then there are “stretch assignments.” These are projects or tasks that lie slightly outside a person’s comfort zone. They compel employees to develop new skills and gain new knowledge.
For example, you might assign someone to head a small marketing campaign, even without prior experience. The project becomes his introduction to the role.
It’s important to put your guys in situations where they have a high degree of success and provide all the guidance and mentorship that they need to flourish. And who knows, you just might uncover a diamond in the rough.
“Stretch” experiences enrich a team member’s appreciation of the different things that go around in the company. Plus, they pick up lessons and insights they can take back when they return to their regular gigs.
(As this can be easily abused, be careful not to employ “stretch” assignments as an opportunity to make employees take on roles that are blatantly unfair or unjust, just so you can save a buck or with the idea of squeezing every last ounce of effort from your people.)
3) Master the art of feedback.
If you want your remote workers to become stars, don’t just leave them to their own devices. Actively give them something to chew on. Feedback, it’s the breakfast of champions. It’s what success is made of.
As a leader, you have a lifetime’s worth of wisdom and experience, that, if given to others, can benefit your business immensely.
Feedback is how you groom leaders, and it’s how you go from “bad,” to “a little bit better but needs some work,” to “almost there, give it another shot,” to “this is amazing!”
Feedback is easy to give when it’s positive. You speak with exclamation points, show a wide grin and give a heavy pat on the back. Say, “Congratulations!” “Good job!” “Well done!” and you’re done.
Corrective feedback is more nuanced because it can possibly hurt. Worse, it might even backfire.
Feedback gives no guarantees. Just because you called people’s attention to something doesn’t mean the issue has been solved. How you give feedback can lead to improvement, decline or no change at all. For example, feedback on a salesperson’s performance can lead to either more sales, lost confidence, or flat results.
It is best to give negative feedback indirectly and subtly, allowing the person to save face. The best communicators give feedback without people noticing. But if people listen enough, they just might get the message:
“I was just wondering if there’s another way we could approach this situation.” (Meaning: Try again.)
“I have a different understanding of the problem, would you like to hear it?” (Meaning: I don’t agree with you.)
“I was just thinking about something you said in the meeting…” (Meaning: Could we do that instead?)
As a leader of remote workers, you need to have finesse and tact. Be clear without being confrontational.
Conducting an orchestra of rock stars entails calling them out if they are out of beat or out of tune.
4) Become a master motivator.
The idea of a master motivator is that one does not require an awarding ceremony to give recognition, or need fancifully named awards like “The Golden Keyboard Award” (for the programmer with the cleanest codes), for example, to raise morale. The guys in his team simply know their efforts are seen.
His presence alone gives people confidence, drive and determination.
Do you want to become a master motivator even from time zones away? Here are some of the things you can do:
- Be specific when giving praise. People can smell generic compliments a mile away. If you are praising a blog post, for example, pick a line, a quote or an idea that has stuck with you.
- Highlight the impact of the effort. “Your design is now with marketing, and they’re loving it!”
- For repetitive jobs, like weekly reports, mention for example, how you appreciate the consistency of your guys, and how you feel like everyone is really on point.
- Praise, even when undeserved. This will motivate your guys to align their actions with the accolade received. If you want something, manifest it by speaking as if it’s already there. “I’m glad everyone’s on time today. Let’s keep that up.” Praise it into existence.
- Thank people, not only for going the extra mile but for the little things. This will hit hard those remote workers who begrudgingly expect recognition for significant contributions but are genuinely touched when appreciated for the little things.
5) Solidify your team.
Rock stars don’t stand alone. They need a band to do their magic. (Otherwise, they’d just be an underdressed punk who shouts for no apparent reason.)
So how do different people become one team?
Here are some of the ways:
- It all starts with a “Hey!” And you can get these conversations and interactions going by assigning people to work on the same tasks.
- Allow time for banter and small talk during meetings. Contrary to popular belief, this is not wasted time. This is how people coalesce.
- Have something in common, other than work. For example, are they all doing “Wordle?” This can possibly be the common thread that connects your guys. Nurture it, talk about it. Create challenges and contests around it.
- Mention personal events, like birthdays and weddings, or the names of family members or pets. Doing this mimics familiarity and closeness. It makes your guys think, “These people know me.” They become more attached and feel at home with the group. So in your meetings, you might ask, “Hey, how’s Nuggets doing?” This will elicit an answer about the member’s cat and will result in even more personal stuff you can use later. (“I hope Nuggets is liking her new brand of treats.”)
It’s very easy to feel alone in a work-from-home setup. But with a virtual team built, people feel they are a part of something. Distance notwithstanding.
And with the other points mentioned here, and with the help of team members, your guys can truly become remote working rock stars.
At Kinetic Innovative Staffing, we know a thing or two about remote-working rock stars because it is our job to find them.
We help companies, big and small, hire remote talent that best fits their organizational needs. We have a rich pool of seasoned online workers—from software developers to programmers, accountants, marketing associates, customer service representatives, paralegals, writers etc.—that come fully prepared to do the job.
And not only that. Our clients enjoy huge savings in labour costs. (How does a 70% drop in your labour costs sound?)
Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.