How to develop trust when managing a team online?

Managing a team online is not easy. Why? Because it depends on trust. 

I recently had a conversation with a friend who joined a startup in 2020. Through her, I found out that this company decided to shift all their workforce from online to in-office. This surprised me as I have observed many benefits of remote/hybrid work structure. Not only is it cost-effective for the company, but also many prefer working from home as it saves time, allows them to spend more time with loved ones, and allows them to work from a place of their comfort. 

That’s why, when my friend shared her experience, I became more curious. I found out that when managing a team remotely, her manager used to set up a video call all day where all team members were supposed to join while working. Meaning, the call would last up to 8 hours every day. No wonder this micromanagement soon exhausted everyone. The company must’ve realised that this way of working is not good enough. and when the world is thinking that remote work will replace offices in future, this company that started remotely shifted to in-office. 

This incident made me wonder, is there not a better way of building trust when managing a team online? Well, there sure is! 

Here are some ways to develop trust when managing a team online. – 

Create a cycle of trust 

Delegate low-risk tasks first. Upon successful completion of the low-risk task, start giving tasks with higher risks. This way the manager can gauge the employee’s dedication to work and decide how much more responsibility can be given to him/her. 

While doing this, the manager needs to set clear deadlines and communicate all the details. After that, it is better for the employee and manager both that the employee works at his/her own pace and the manager does not micromanage. In this case, gentle reminders are enough to encourage the employee if required. This way, both manager and employee can start relying on each other and this will result in building trust. 

Keep your team in the loop

Communication plays a crucial role in a remote work setting. Regularly emailing the team, keeping them informed and making sure that you are receiving information and updates from the team regularly ensures that there are no communication gaps and unresolved issues. 

As there is a lack of physical presence of the whole team in the office, maintaining transparency and choosing words carefully while emailing or talking to your team on a call is important. You need to set clear expectations and communicate them directly and transparently. 

Trust and respect your team 

There is a misconception that remote workers are idlers. You must show your team that you trust them. Believe in your employees that they will deliver tasks on time. Unless they miss a deadline, do not doubt that they will not work or be productive at their home. Do not micromanage and let the team work at their own pace. Give them a clear deadline to complete their task. 

Understand the challenges of remote working 

It will be a lie if we say that there are no challenges in working online. Problems like unstable internet connection, distraction at home, miscommunication, and time zone differences can occur sometimes. 

Managers need to take these circumstances into consideration and give realistic deadlines to the team. This will help in avoiding unnecessary stress among employees and they will be able to work tension free and do their best.     

Schedule weekly team meetings 

Schedule weekly team meetings. This way, the team will also be able to bond and understand each other better.

While it is true that many are not adherent to meetings, one or 2 meetings in a week are great to set the schedule and deadlines for coming working days. And, it sounds much better than being on a video call ALL THE TIME. This will also help in brainstorming new ideas and employees will feel more included. 

Use remote work software tools to manage team

There are many free and cost-effective software available that aid in managing teams of remote employees. ClickUp, Trello, Hubspot, OnBoard, Everleagues, and Connectwise are some great examples of this. Based on the team’s requirements, managers can select which software suits the best. 

By utilising these methods, managers and teams can build mutual trust among themselves. It has been proven that when there is trust between colleagues, managers and their teams, not only productivity but job satisfaction among employees also increases. With these ways, managers can protect their teams’ preferred ways of working and still maximise results and productivity.   

About the author: Rasika Deshpande
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