Being in charge of remote project management teams requires presence and intentionality.
From helping your operations team create efficient workflows to inspiring employees to become independent thinkers, leadership and management choices need to have a clear purpose.
In other words, being a conscious leader is essential if you want to lead and manage your remote project management team to success.
But what exactly is a conscious leader? And what steps can you take to implement conscious leadership?
Let’s take a look at six best practices you can use to lead and manage your team.
What is conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership was first outlined in the book “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.”
In short, conscious leadership is when a leader is radically responsible, self-aware, and focuses on building a “we” culture instead of a “me” culture.
Conscious leaders view life through the lens of a creator. They’re open, curious, and committed to impacting and learning from their environment. They recognise and are honest about their strengths. They also know how to implement tools and resources to make up for any skills they lack.
Above all else, conscious leaders strive to stay open to new ideas and collaborations with their teams. They have a mentality which states that everything can be figured out and are always looking for new solutions.
Project managers can use conscious leadership to create a team culture that’s both autonomous and collaborative — something that’s hard to do in the remote world.
Best practices to lead remote project management teams
When leading your remote team, keep the following tips in mind.
1. Inspire your team to be independent thinkers
Remote teams thrive when each team member can pull their own weight, think for themselves, and collaborate with others.
To ensure your team is both autonomous and collaborative, inspire your team to be independent thinkers.
When team members think for themselves, they learn how to problem-solve, refine their processes, and pivot when necessary. They learn to look at tasks from a macro and micro level, and they gain valuable experience from learning by doing.
To inspire your team to be independent thinkers, keep these tips in mind:
Give them independent tasks they can take ownership of – Assigning your employees independent tasks creates a sense of ownership and autonomy — the two key pillars of employee engagement.
Train them how to use critical thinking skills when they come across challenges – Host a critical thinking course to train team members on using critical thinking to solve problems and collaborate with others.
Encourage them to experiment – Invite your employees to get creative and experiment with their work. Can they find more efficient ways to complete tasks? Have they noticed any process details that could get in the way of a project being completed on time?
Pay them for brainstorming sessions – Paying team members for brainstorming sessions is how some top companies (like Google) come out with revolutionary ideas. Consider allotting a few hours each week to employees for brainstorming.
2. Make ongoing training a commitment
Equip your team with the best training on the planet.
To stay up to date with project management standards, it’s important to make ongoing training a commitment.
When coming up with a training programme, keep it simple and flexible. Ideally, try to offer the training in various formats — like video, text, and audio and micro-courses — to appeal to various learning styles.
Since you have a remote team, provide a learning platform and allow team members to go through the training on their own time. Consider setting a training deadline a few weeks out to make sure everyone has time to go through it.
It’s also important to assess what current learning level your employees are at. Are they new to project management or are they seasoned veterans? Understanding exactly where your employees are helps you assign them relevant training.
To help you understand what level they have, create an assessment and a grading scale. Then, assign training to your employees according to their specific learning levels.
Beyond keeping up with project management standards, it’s also important to coach your employees on best practices and time-saving tools. Equipping your team with the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently results in higher quality output.
To take training to another level, consider adding personal development and career development training into your schedule.
3. Strengthen team communication
Nelson Sherwin, manager of PEO Companies, says, “While remote managers might talk a good communication game to their staff, more than a few don’t practice what they preach. To ‘remote’ successfully requires an understanding that you’re dealing with a different kind of beast entirely. All the little interactions taken for granted in a centralized office setting go away. The only kind of communication is what you set up and use.”
In other words, communication can’t be a passive pursuit. It requires intentionality and care.
In fact, communication difficulties are one of the biggest struggles remote workers face. We may have more ways to connect than before, but good communication doesn’t happen without a communication plan.
To make sure you and your team can communicate effectively, make sure to weave communication training into your schedule.
Here are some other communication tips to keep in mind:
Improve your team’s business English level – Training your team to use business English when communicating — especially with written communication — helps ensure that information is relayed correctly and accurately.
Give and receive feedback – Make giving and receiving feedback a natural process. Invite employees to provide feedback during meetings and after project completion. When team members turn in their work, take a few seconds to see if there’s any constructive feedback you can provide.
Practice role-play activities – Communication role-play activities allow your team to put what they’ve learned to the test. Set up challenging scenarios like dealing with conflict so employees can practice role-playing to work through them.
4. Actively manage and remove information silos
An information silo exists when departments or divisions don’t share information or resources. Information silos are important to avoid because they keep your team from performing at optimal levels.
To prevent information silos from growing, focus on identifying and correcting problems as soon as they’re noticed.
Here are some other ways to prevent information silos:
Utilise group messaging – Use a team messaging app, like Slack, so your team can freely communicate when needed. In the app, create relevant channels that address specific topics like deadlines, budgets, and meetings. Encourage your team to drop communications into relevant Slack channels or group chats when they have a question or message. This way, the most relevant people will see it and answer it as soon as possible.
Give access to shared resources – Give your team members access to all of your company’s best resources and tutorials in a shared resource folder or edge data center.
Have clear policies and procedures – Clearly outline all policies and procedures about project execution and deadlines in a shareable living doc. Make sure to update the doc any time a policy or a procedure changes.
Don’t forget cybersecurity – When your remote team has access to the same resources — regardless of what part of the world they’re in — it’s crucial to protect that information by providing access to a VPN. Look into ExpressVPN if you don’t already have one. It’s highly rated and one of the most secure options available.
5. Refine your systems
Regularly refining your systems helps your project team work more efficiently.
As a remote project management team, your systems are the core of everything you do. Things like project timelines, template creation, and budget management are only possible because of systems.
When refining your systems, start with the end in mind. What processes do you want to improve? What tasks could be more efficient?
Here are some more tips on refining your systems and processes:
Choose the best methodologies – By now, you’ve probably tested a few methodologies, but it’s wise not to get too comfortable using the same ones forever. Consider trying Kanban, Scrum, Scrumban, and Agile methodologies regularly. They work well with remote project management teams.
Improve your workflows – The methodologies you choose will highly influence the workflows you use, but it’s always best to take a closer look at those workflows. Are there tasks that can be automated? Are the right tasks going to the right people? Look for any gaps that could negatively affect each workflow’s process.
Use automations – Use automations to replace repetitive tasks like status updates and deadline reminders.
Make task management more efficient – What does the breakdown of each project task look like? Which steps could be more efficient?
Know what to delegate and to whom – Assigning the right tasks to the right people is essential to refining your systems. If Rachel has accounting experience, why put her in content creation when she could be in charge of all things budget? If Mathew used to be a construction manager, why assign him to scheduling when he could be in quality control?
Use the right tools – Using the right tools shaves countless hours on task management, communication, and project execution. For project planning and task management, use productivity platforms like Trello or ClickUp. For project execution, use project management platforms like monday.com. To communicate with clients and employees, use @mentions in shared platforms and a messaging tool like Slack.
Streamline the onboarding process – Use tools like contract management software, encrypted emails, and video conferencing or webinar software to onboard employees with ease.
Build a team charter – Build a team charter to outline how your team is going to tackle a project together. Meet with your team on a video call and build it together. Ensure the charter clearly defines how the team will put the project’s scope into context.
Being in charge of a remote project management team requires presence and intentionality. To lead and manage your remote team to success, refer to these tips whenever you need to.
Author: Eduard Klein – International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Entrepreneur.