4 Biggest Pain Points in Leading Remote Teams: What Managers Should Look Out For

Switching from on-site to remote workers has been a demanding challenge for many professionals and the one which still permeates new hybrid and remote work models. Diana Blažaitienė, recruitment and personnel rent solutions expert at Soprana Personnel International believes that remote teams have already come a long way in figuring out how to best operate under changed circumstances, however, some lingering pain points require remote managers to upskill and form new leadership practices.

June 7, 2022

Remote work seems like it is not going anywhere soon even with the pandemic restrictions going more slack in many of the world’s countries. A lot of remote employees plan to continue working from home and although the past several years have forced them to develop new remote work skills, the same cannot always be said about their managers who still have long ways to go to fully comprehend how to navigate managing hybrid or remote teams.

Over the 15 years of working with on-site, hybrid, and remote workers, I have gotten a grasp on what works with remote teams and, most importantly, what doesn’t. These are the four most common pain points I see remote team managers are still guilty of even after two years of mostly remote work.

1. Treating meetings as side tasks

When everyone on the remote team works from home, general and one-on-one calls are crucial for keeping everyone on the same page, checking in to see the general mood, or perceiving the potential issues bubbling within the team. But remote managers have the tendency of treating team calls as a side task, which might be postponed at the last minute if something else comes up.

Making them a regular practice requires cultivating discipline on behalf of leaders if they want their remote workers to feel as a team, thrive, and feel included in all company-wide aspects.

I often advise managers to put the scheduled calls on the team’s calendar where everybody can see them. Regularly scheduling calls allows the team to make the necessary arrangements prior to the call and prepare questions, if any, while the managers are less likely to skip on them.

2. Underestimating the power of feedback

In my practice, one of the reasons people named when asked about why they changed their job during the pandemic was the lack of feedback and the resulting ambiguity about whether the employee was making progress. It is a challenge in remote teams and one which managers need to get better at quickly.

The lack of feedback regarding performance, upskilling, professional growth, or daily obstacles might feel discouraging and lead to considering professional opportunities elsewhere. Just like regular calls and check-ins, feedback helps to strengthen relationships between remote teams and their managers, build trust on a deeper level, and highlight areas of potential growth for both sides.

Making feedback a regular practice signals managers’ attention to and appreciation of their teams and paves a way to finding techniques for mutual motivation to see each other succeed.

3. Skipping out on task sharing

Sharing tasks is considered one of the most successful employee engagement tactics. Leaders who opt to delegate tasks are said to generate a 33% higher revenue. However, sharing assignments might be a hard skill to put into practice for remote team managers because of a preconceived notion that it takes less time to do it yourself than to explain it.

Delegating tasks might also be more time and energy-consuming in remote workplaces due to all the different communication channels remote teams are on, whether they are real-time or asynchronous. Therefore, when dealing with important clients or requests via email or other media, managers should include other team members whose expertise might be useful.

The benefits of task sharing are twofold: managers do not overcrowd their daily agendas and have time to take on other affairs while the team members feel trusted, valued, and included.

4. Taking new hires for granted

People who started new employment mid-pandemic are less loyal to their company because of weaker relationships with team members. That is why giving them lots of attention during their onboarding process and guiding them through daily dealings is essential in ensuring they will want to stay at your company and develop trust in their manager.

A tried-and-true strategy for showing attention to the new hires is assigning them a work buddy—someone who would be there for them every step of the way in those first months of employment and help them get to know the ins and outs of the company. Not only does it solve the lack of attention problem but boosts inter-team relationships and shows the newly onboarded colleagues that they are not left to their own devices.

Even though remote and hybrid work models come with their own challenges, they open companies to the world of talent while professionals have more options to showcase their skills. Why not adopt new remote management models to accommodate the growing demand?

By Diana Blažaitienė

Diana Blažaitienė is a recruitment and personnel rent solutions expert at Soprana Personnel International, a company specializing in providing Scandinavian technical and administrative personnel recruitment services offshore and onshore in different career fields.