The current engineering labor market is forcing organizations to get creative with their hiring practices. It’s also forcing organizations to work even harder to retain high-level talent that keeps them thriving. The key to both retention and performance is proper management of employees. Managing a development team is not an easy task, and doing it remotely is even more demanding.
Organizations around the world are losing out on top engineering talent because of poor management practices that are leading to less-than-ideal outcomes for everyone in the engineering leadership suite. Here are the top 5 challenges when managing a remote team and most importantly, how to fix them.
- Measurement: We must find a way to measure performance. If we are all in the office together, there is an illusion that if managers can physically see someone then they can assess productivity. In a remote setting, we must use metrics to measure productivity.
- Building trust-based relationships: Any time people are in different locations, there is a higher risk of mistrust.
- Communication: No matter where you are located, clear communication is always important. When communicating over phone, video, or email, it becomes even more important.
- Process: In a remote work environment, processes must be very well-defined. When people are side by side, it’s easier to get away with unstructured processes.
- Quality Assurance (QA): In the office, it’s easy to walk over and check someone else’s work to make sure they are doing the correct thing. It’s also much easier and more natural to ask questions, which is essential to maintaining quality. Managing QA remotely requires much more coordination and defined processes and metrics.
- Measurement: Create key performance indicators (KPIs) for important parts of each function. For example, if you are looking to optimize customer experience, your remote customer service reps should be measured on customer experience, not necessarily average handle time.
- Building trust-based relationships: It takes a conscious effort by managers to develop trust with remote team members that they’ve never met before and don’t see daily. It’s interesting, but the other four aspects of this question all help build trust. If there are objective measurements of performance, good communication, good processes, and QA, trust will naturally develop. If performance is inadequate, it won’t. But each of these items helps to manage out poor performers.
- Communication: Take pride in your messaging. Whether that’s through email, zoom, or phone, really think about what you are trying to achieve with your message.
- Process: Take time to define and codify your processes. Every one of our employees works with the client to clearly define the process and creates a manual so that it’s documented and can be easily referenced.
- Quality Assurance: Outstanding QA requires good metrics and superior data. That’s the first step. The next step is giving quality, constructive feedback early and often. Then, QA rates can be reduced as competency is demonstrated.
If you hire the right people, have the right processes in place, and manage them correctly, you and everyone on your team are likely to achieve the right outcome. The current labor market is making it hard to find the right engineering talent. In this age of digital transformation, don’t make it harder to achieve your goals by failing to account for the challenges of remote management and how to avoid them.
Focusing on honing remote management practices ultimately results in more productive and effective engineers, which adds to the overall productivity and growth of the company. We all know that a growing, thriving company will generally attract higher level engineering talent, thus creating a positive spiral.