How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged Without Micromanaging

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, millions of people have been working remotely, and this has left us all wondering, will this be the way forward for the future?

While it does take some adjusting to for most people, remote working does give people the chance to avoid soul-destroying commutes and to have a better work/life balance.

As an HR manager who might have to manage a remote team, how do you feel about remote working? Yes, you might believe in it from a flexible working and wellbeing point of view, but does remote working bring out your inner control freak?

Do you find yourself wanting to micromanage? You want employees to be productive and remain engaged, but is that really the best way to go about it?

Or do you have managers exhibiting micromanagement tendencies?

Here are my top tips on how to keep remote employees engaged without micro-managing.

Be approachable

If people know they can come to you when there’s a problem, you won’t have to be sat there worrying about what it is they might not be telling you. They’ll freely come to you early on for guidance and the issue won’t become more serious down the line.

Offer support and let employees solve problems themselves.

Don’t take it upon yourself to spoon-feed employees all the answers. If you do this, they’ll lose the ability and confidence to solve problems themselves. Offer support and guide them towards solutions, but don’t take over.

Listen to people

Listen to your team’s ideas and concerns about working from home, what’s working, and what’s not working, and create a process that everyone is happy with. This will reassure you that everyone is on the same page and you might be less inclined to micromanage.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

It takes a lot of self-awareness to recognise your own limitations as a manager as well as your strengths. Try to think about whether you have a problem trusting employees to work remotely, or whether you have a strong tendency to micromanage. Ask yourself how much this might be contributing towards the stress you might feel about the current situation and managing a remote team, and see if you can think of ways to work around the weak spots. Often when we are under pressure we overdo our strengths, something I learnt along the way. As an example, I am very organised but when under pressure it does become micromanaging. Luckily, I now recognise the signs.

Loosen your grip
If you know you are anxious about the whole remote working situation and you are a born micromanager, don’t try to do a 180 and hand everything over to your team in one go. Instead, take baby steps. Start by agreeing set times to check in with people, then start delegating smaller tasks first and work your way up to bigger tasks. Hopefully, you’ll see that you can trust employees to get the job done without needing to be on their backs 24/7.

Want help with how to delegate then download the free ebook here.

Remember that perfection doesn’t exist

At the moment, it’s taking most of us all of our willpower to keep going from day to day, so pushing your team to achieve perfection when good enough will do is not the best strategy for keeping people engaged and motivated.

Build a culture of trust

Being open and honest with your team builds trust. If they trust you, they will be more likely to work hard for you and work within the guidelines you’ve set, and this in turn, will show you that you can trust them.

Set clear expectations from the start

Remote working is new territory for many people, and anxieties and concerns on both sides can be reduced if you set expectations, objectives, and deadlines from the start. When everyone knows what is expected of them, you’ll find that your team are more confident going it alone and you don’t need to give as much direction.

Ask people how they want to be managed

It’s a good idea to ask people what they expect in terms of support from you, and how often they want you to check in with them. You will probably find that they don’t need half as much babysitting as you think. Letting go of the reins will help employees become more confident in their abilities to solve problems and take on extra responsibility.

Managing a remote team is not easy, especially if you’re a micromanager at heart, but by setting clear objectives and expectations, offering appropriate support, working to build trust, and staying connected (within reason!), you’ll create a loyal, engaged team of employees who feel appreciated and trusted.
But like with any great team, remote or not, it all starts with you being an effective manager.

How can I help?
Just because we can’t meet face to face right now, it doesn’t mean that your pressing team issues have to take a back seat. Book a call for 1:1 virtual consultancy and support that will help you turn your team around and have the business not just surviving, but thriving throughout this time and beyond.

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