How do you manage a remote team?

The rise of remote work has many benefits, including increased flexibility, work-life balance, and a larger talent pool. But it also has disadvantages. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of feedback between leaders and employees.

When employees work together, it’s easy for leaders to give quick updates and feedback by stopping by their desks or having them stay after a meeting. The same goes for employees talking to managers—when they have an issue to address, it’s much easier to gauge a person’s workload and mood in person and find the right time to talk.

However, remote work makes those interactions more challenging, and many leaders find that feedback doesn’t flow as smoothly. Research has shown that feedback interactions happen less frequently in a remote environment, with in-person employees receiving at least 20% more real-time feedback.

According to Fredrik Thomassen, founder, and CEO of Superside, providing tools for feedback and communication can improve the remote working experience and create stronger relationships and more effective teams.

But how can leaders provide feedback and encourage employees to speak up in a remote setting?

Foster individual relationships

Many employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up in a group situation, especially when giving feedback or constructive criticism to a leader. And a group situation often isn’t the best place to provide individual feedback to an employee. Instead, leaders need to develop strong communication skills and get to know employees as individuals. That often requires regular one-on-one communication with employees to check in on their workload mindset and allow them to ask questions. When leaders meet regularly with employees one-on-one, they can build stronger relationships and have a forum for feedback to flow more naturally.

Develop trust

A strong relationship requires trust. When employees trust leaders, they are more willing to listen to feedback and provide meaningful suggestions so that both sides can grow together. Trust comes from ensuring employees feel seen and safe. When employees feel valued for their work as individuals and not just numbers, they are more likely to bring suggestions to the table and respond well to feedback.

Use the right channels

Remote work has opened the door to many new channels of virtual communication. Instead of popping by someone’s desk or meeting in your office, remote conversations can happen in several ways. When giving feedback to employees, make sure you use the most effective channel to get the message across and maintain a good relationship. Show your face in a video to allow for a more natural conversation. Don’t share harsh feedback over email or text; find when you and the employee can talk through the matter together on the phone or via video.

Share positive and constructive feedback

Feedback often has a negative connotation, but not all feedback is negative, nor should it be. Constructive feedback can correct poor performance and get employees back on track. Still, positive feedback can help employees feel confident in their performance and know they are moving in the right direction. Sharing positive and constructive feedback helps avoid employees feeling like they are being attacked and can make them more willing to take risks and be creative because they receive encouraging feedback.

Ask employees for feedback

Set the example for positive feedback in your team or company by asking for feedback about you as a leader or the company as a whole. When employees know their opinions are valued and that leaders listen to their feedback, they become more willing to accept feedback about their work. Leaders can ask for feedback in various ways, both formally and informally. Ask questions when you visit employees to see if they have any suggestions, offer surveys, host town halls, or have office hours where people can drop in — virtually — to chat or make suggestions. As you set the tone for feedback, employees will follow the example.

Written by

Michelle Kaiser
Michelle Kaiser

Senior Editor | CEO.com

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