How can you manage your teams if they never come into the office, and are working at home?

How do you manage teams that are working from home? What about managers that mostly work from home? If they are self-isolating, does that mean that they get a “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly, and never have to do any real management, give inspiration to their teams and coaching?

Definitely not. You can be an incredible manager-from a distance, across time-zones, and never see your staff.

Here are some of my survival tips for managing your remote teams

Have regular meetings.

Your team will be like your kids. They won’t listen to what you have to say, they will do what you do. They will mirror your behaviour. Start setting habits and rituals for yourself, to manage your time, your energy, and your workflow.

“Act and speak in the way that you want them to behave.” Set up meetings with your team on days and times that happens every week, so that it can easily be remembered and that will give them the certainty that they are important to you.

Ask them about their Personal goals

People don’t work for money; they work to satisfy their core values. What are theirs? Where are they going and what do they want to achieve?

In a Performance coaching session last week, the manager found out that the salesperson has a deep desire to buy an Audi by the end of the year. By analyzing this goal and breaking it into specifics: the installment rate per month, the car insurance and deposit-he could see if his goal would be achievable and what he needs to work towards. The sales manager now knows what will motivate this salesman to hit his numbers.

Many years ago, our company had an incentive to win a trip to Mauritius. You would only qualify if you reached at least a 100 % of your yearly target-which was a big stretch goal. But for me, that wasn’t motivating at all.

My dream destination was France, Paris, Provance -wine, art and music, an island wasn’t on my bucket list.

Know what your staff really want, do not assume that it’s an island trip!

When you understand what makes a person jump out of bed in the morning, and what their dreams and desires are, see if you can align their personal goals with their business goals.

Find out what they’ve tried so far

One of the most important tasks that you will ever have as a manager, is to make things possible for your team.

What does that mean?

Can you break the bigger goal into sizeable chunks, so they can know what path to take, and make it more manageable to them?

I’ve seen so many Sales managers after my coaching sessions sitting with their team members and break their targets into smaller chunks. And watch the relief and hope flood over that salesperson when their manager has shown them how it is possible.

By asking your team member what they have done so far, praising them on their progress, and listening to their thoughts and feelings you are satisfying their 5 core needs.

The 5 core needs of every human

  • Affiliation: to be treated as a colleague, to be one of the team
  • Appreciation: when your thoughts, feelings and actions are acknowledged and have merit.
  • Autonomy: When others respect your freedom to decide important matters.
  • Status: When you are given full recognition when you do something well.
  • Role: When you can define your role and activities in a way that you find fulfilling.

Analyzing what has worked so far, and then compile a Strategy

Ask them more questions, allow them to do the talking. Take the lead and ask them to brainstorm ideas on what their plan could look like.

This will affirm them further because you are considering their ideas, and not just telling them what to do.

As a manager, you need to equip your teams to also start thinking. Don’t always be the person that gives all the solutions, they need to also come up with ideas when you are not around.

Ask questions and listen deeply, stop assuming that you can read minds

One of the lessons I had to learn very quickly when studying Neuro-linguistic programming, was to listen. We had to write down the exact words that the person was saying, and only use those words, to delve deeper into a place of understanding.

The moment you use someone else’s words, it feels to them like you are entering sacred ground, because it makes sense to their unconscious mind. You are in rapport and in sync.

I had such a hard time, because I was always the one finishing people’s sentences and interrupting them. A year after becoming an NLP practitioner an acquaintance of mine pulled me aside and said, he can see that I’ve changed and that I am now allowing others to speak. I realised that people won’t always tell you what bothers them about you, only after you’ve realised it for yourself. That is why you need to see feedback as a gift and an opportunity to improve and grow.

Who are your mentors and support team?

I believe in the value of a good mentor and still fondly remember my speaking mentor when I enrolled at

Toastmasters in 2008. Vic Brits had quickly uncovered my deepest dreams and desires and held me accountable to becoming the best speaker I could be.

Vic demanded certain standards. I had to arrive at his house, and already know my speech of by heart.  e would work on the delivery, the body language, the voice and making that speech pop.

For quite a few of the meetings, I was not quite ready. I was used to writing my speech the night before the meeting, and here he expected me to have it written, memorized and practiced a week before! He definitely raised the bar.

How can you raise the bar with your team members? What happens in your one on ones, are you doing all the talking, are they prepared and ready to ask for specific coaching needs?

Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert both talk about having mentors and cheerleaders on your side. What I found interesting, is that these mentors don’t even have to know your name. You could be reading their newsletters, learning from their videos, their podcasts or reading their books. Get your staff to identify who can inspire, motivate, and teach them what they need to take steps towards their end goals?

Offer support yourself.

How can you support them, is an important question to ask?

One of the managers in my Performance & Misconduct training last week said as a manager you wear many hats. You are the Psychologist, you are the parent, the guide, the counsellor, the healer, the motivator. Offer support to hear what they need from you, don’t just assume what they need or don’t need.

Create certainty by communicating

How often you will be meeting and what they should prepare for the meeting. You need to have dual responsibility and not always spoon-feed your teams. Allow them to be pro-active and lead your one-on-one meetings.

Lastly Give them back their monkeys

When my husband was promoted from a teamlead to a manager, off I went to the shops and the book that we both loved the most, was the One-minute manager with monkeys.

In a nuthshell, as a manager your team will arrive at your doorstep, and want to hand over their problems, their issues (their monkeys) to you.

But as a manager, you need to rather: look at their monkey, ask questions about it, ask for their ideas, perspective, and solutions, then together come up with a way to resolve this. And then hand the monkey back to your staff member.

Don’t take on their monkeys.

Last week in my training session on Performance and misconduct, I explained this concept, and the manager said: “Wow, it’s not about taking on everyone else’s work, it’s about teaching them how to think, and how to resolve an issue.”

I encouraged the team, to put accountability in the hands of their teams.

To give them a guideline on what they need to prepare for a meeting, so that they can lead it, and get the support they need from their manager. You don’t have to do all the talking, get them to be pro-active, to identify challenges and ways in which you can support them better. Then it becomes a mutually beneficial mentoring coaching relationship.

At Y-Connect we join, grow and transform teams into something more beautiful. Chat to us about a training, coaching or consulting intervention to help your leaders or your teams become high performers. Or book Yoke van Dam as your speaker for your next breakaway or online event.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel here or subscribe to our newsletter.