Have you just accepted a new job as a remote supervisor, or are you a remote worker who just got a new supervisor that you haven’t yet met? Either way, there are some steps to start making a positive impact in a short period of time. If you just got a new supervisor, here are the steps you can anticipate being taken to prepare you for meaningful remote work. This is a primer in how to supervise a group of remote workers you’ve never met.
First of all, in order to work as a unit you have to build a team,. This is done by creating an open discussion of issues, impediments to success and expectations. By involving the remote group in a transparent dialogue, you are in fact creating a group consensus. Six preliminary questions should be sent to each member of the work group. Discuss each question one-on-one, then consolidate all the individual feedback into a group overview:
- What do you see as our ultimate long-term goal and short-term objectives?
- What do you see as the key issues and impediments that need to be addressed?
- What are we doing effectively that shouldn’t be changed, only improved upon?
- What do you see as your primary responsibility? Constraints? Limitations?
- What do you do best and can individually contribute to the group’s success?
- What kind of supervisor do you need for you to contribute as a high performer?
Once these questions get answered, the supervisor needs to outline operating essentials:
- How remote meetings will be organized: Agenda, schedules, benchmarks, due dates
- How to communicate issues and impediments to the supervisor prior to meetings
- Individual and group expectations, performance standards and periodic reviews
- Key dates, contact numbers, technical information, emergency protocols
As the group becomes familiar with your operating style of engagement and feel more comfortable with each other, open and substantial communications become the norm and trust begins to form. The dynamic of forming a team occurs with multiple conversations, both as individuals and as a team. It’s always better to over- communicate than under-communicate. Be honest and fair. If you don’t have answers, tell them, then share the answers when you get them. Always be clear, consistent and concise with direction and expectations.
Being a part of a remote work group is difficult. Supervising a remote group is more difficult. The more a supervisor shares and engages the group in discussions, problem-solving and goal setting, the greater will be the trust between and among the remote work group. The higher the trust with the supervisor and within the work group, the higher the performance and results.
All work groups, whether remote or not, need certain characteristics to be successful. Among the most important is confidence in the supervisor, the group as a whole, and each individual within the work group. With confidence comes higher performance and trust.
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