Don’t get us wrong. We’d be the first to admit that remote work, and being remote-first business is a wonderful thing.
But just like any physical office, remote working doesn’t come without its challenges. There’s a lot to cut through in a digital jungle.
Written messages can sometimes be misinterpreted, despite them having the best of intentions. Holding people accountable to deadlines can sometimes be challenging. Not to mention pesky Wi-Fi problems. Did your colleague freeze, or are they pretending to?
Can they hear you? Are you still on mute? Have you lost track of asking whether or not they can see your screen?
We’ve rounded up some common mistakes and red flags we’ve come across, so that you don’t make the same mistake as you do your best to lead your team.
Because after all, mistakes do happen. But they’re also a chance for all of us to learn.
5 of the biggest red flags to avoid as a remote team leader
1. Stop expecting instant replies
Are you the type of person that often expects fast responses, and gets worried if so-and-so is at their desk if they don’t respond immediately? We have one word for you – stop.
You might be tempted to adopt this mindset because Slack is an instant messaging service, but the reality is, having expectations of those around you to reply immediately will lead to severe burn out. When you are constantly distracted by colleagues it gets harder and harder to tick off that never-ending to do list.
Instead, try this:
Adopt an asynchronous work style approach where replying as and when is encouraged in order not to disturb workflow. While you’re at it, you should look into it in more depth because working asynchronously can be a great retention strategy.
Encourage deep work sessions and make sure that your team is on the same page as you when it comes to communication style: make it clear that it is ok for people to reply as and when – after all, there are always lots of deadlines, and having to reply to something right away can be severely disrupting.
2. Avoid booking back to back team meetings
Find yourself in too many meetings? Did you know Zoom fatigue is a thing? It happens to the best of us when we are in hour long, back to back meetings.
Instead, try this:
Give yourself and your teammates room to breathe in-between meetings. Make sure to leave 5-10 minute buffers between meetings you schedule. This way you get some offline time for your eyes, a chance to stretch, and can encourage you and your team to stay hydrated.
3. Be accessible to your team without it disrupting you
We understand the struggle of managing a team all too well in between those looming deadlines you have to prioritise. Sometimes, it can be hard to make time for your direct reports with that deadline in mind.
Instead, try this:
One way to tackle this is to create days where you’re open for meetings – scheduled or spontaneous so that you can easily unblock your team and still make space for the deep work zone you need to get into.
You can easily set some boundaries around this and make sure your team is kept up to date by blocking timeout on your calendar to show visibility, and keeping your status on the instant messaging service you use to keep in touch updated.
Looking for more advice? We’ve got more tips to help you set healthy boundaries here.
4. Micromanaging your team
Struggling to stay up to date with all the projects your team is working on?
You can be tempted to micro-manage them in order to stay on top of what is going on. However, this can quickly dampen team spirit. On top of that, with the million and one things on your plate – it can be time consuming.
Despite having the best of intentions, micromanaging your team may make them feel that you do not trust them to do their jobs and can be demoralising. In the long run, this can be damaging and can affect team morale, productivity and workflow. Which is why having the ability to trust in each other as a team, and having each other’s back is so important – if you are worried about this, now might be the time to start developing trust. It is never too late.
Try this as well:
Empower your team by creating workflows that everyone can easily follow by using Project Management tools such as Asana for visibility on live projects and ongoing work.
This way, you prevent yourself from having to waste time micromanaging your direct reports, and they get the feel good factor of ticking something off that list. PS. Asana has a built-in gamifying feature that you might enjoy.
5. Gaslighting your team
Did you accidentally miss a presentation your team sent you, and can’t bring yourself to tell them that? Did you end up saying that you didn’t receive it? That’s a form of gaslighting.
Gaslighting happens when a person invalidates what is known to be true to someone, forcing them to then question facts and their ability to do their job.
Instead, try this:
Sometimes, this is done unintentionally or unconsciously because it can be embarrassing to admit. But by admitting it and holding yourself accountable, you create a safe space for your team to also own up to mistakes instead of showing them that it is ok to pretend it never happened.
The wrap up
We hope that these tips will help you on your quest to become a manager that you’ll be proud of.
If you’re going remote for the first time, we highly recommend you check out our Remote First Workplace Playbook which is full of handy tips and tricks on remote first guidelines, maintaining company culture in a remote first workplace and more.