by Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder Remote Leadership Institute
Productivity. In all my conversations with leaders about managing people remotely, this is typically among their concerns. If you’re a remote leader looking for answers on how your team can be more productive, consider whether you’re asking the right questions.
Here are four questions you can ask your remote team members to help lead them toward greater productivity:
How could your environment support greater productivity and focus?
It’s hard to tell from a distance whether a remote workers’ setup is conducive to being productive. Without actually seeing for ourselves, we don’t know what kind of obstacles and distractions they might have.
If you have the opportunity to visit their remote “office” in person, do so. If not, have them take you on a guided video tour of their work space. You can ask follow-up questions and make suggestions for improvement from there.
Do you have the software/tools you need for maximum productivity?
Nothing wastes more time than workers searching for a workaround to a problem because they don’t have the right tool to do it in the first place. As their employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure they have the right software and tools they need to do the work you’ve assigned to them.
Remarkable leaders take the initiative in sorting out conflicts, and asking this question can help avert potential conflicts down the road. It lets your team know you support them in what they’re doing.
Are you taking mini-breaks to maximize productivity?
One of the biggest threats to remote teams is not setting personal boundaries and time limits. It might seem contradictory, but working from home actually makes it more difficult to escape from work demands. Without interruptions from colleagues, regular lunch and break times and other “organic” breaks that happen in the traditional office world, it’s easy for remote workers to let time get away from them.
When that happens, remote workers can easily become burned out and lose their effectiveness. At the very least, remote workers suffer from the common human tendency to produce diminishing returns without a break to regain focus. Make sure your remote team members are intentional about taking some time to regroup. Make some suggestions about how they can do that.
What can I do to help?
This is the most important question you can ask, and you can’t ask it too often. This question opens up the opportunity for you to support your team in areas where your intuition might not have picked up on problems.
Asking this question also puts the other questions you’re asking into a supportive context. Rather than coming off as a “nosy boss” or “micromanager,” you’re letting your team know you are there to help them succeed.
Good leadership is never hands-off. In the remote world, it’s important for leaders to be intentionally involved to help all team members succeed – whether you see them each day or not. Doing this will help them maximize their productivity and produce success stories for everyone.
If you’re new to the world of remote leadership or just want to become better at managing your remote team, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you. Take advantage of these totally free development tools now.