Delegation is the most important skill to master when working with remote teams. If you want your remote team to excel, you need to be able to trust them and set them up for success by giving them the space they need to grow and learn.
Delegation is a skill that many managers struggle with because it requires trust and selflessness—two things that are hard to cultivate when working with someone who isn’t physically present.
Here are seven ways you can embrace delegation as a skill to strengthen your remote team.
1. Communicate Tasks Clearly
Communicate clearly with your team members about what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how much time is available to complete their tasks. Create a checklist for each task or project, including details like deadlines and resources needed along with instructions on how to complete them. This will help projects move forward smoothly even when team members are working remotely or on different schedules.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Be realistic about what you can expect from each member of your team. Some people are better at working independently than others. Every member of your remote team should understand what’s expected of them before they start working on any given project or task. This standard helps everyone stay motivated and engaged for the duration of the project without feeling like they are falling behind or being compared unfairly to others.
3. Put Everything in Writing
Just because some project details seem obvious to you doesn’t mean they are obvious to the rest of the team. This is especially true when working in international teams with different cultural and social backgrounds. Always store written rules, tasks, and processes somewhere that is easily accessible to the whole team.
By keeping thorough written records, you can avoid misunderstandings, future confrontations, and “he said, she said” situations. You can also make videos explaining common workplace processes that you can resend to your team members any time they need a brush up on workplace guidelines.
4. Schedule Regular Meetings
It’s very hard to build a team spirit via text messaging only. It’s important to have regular but effective remote meetings. While many remote workers may deem frequent remote meetings unnecessary, weekly meetings encourage collaboration across the company. These weekly meetings are an opportunity to inform people of the progress made by others and give them a chance to ask questions or voice concerns. That said, remote meetings shouldn’t be all about work. You can plan to incorporate icebreakers and talk about different topics to help people get comfortable with each other, which will ultimately lead to better teamwork.
5. Use a Productivity-Tracking Software
When delegating tasks within remote teams, you need to have an insight into everyone’s work. Having productivity-tracking software can help you assess each team member’s performance and productivity. The data from the software can show you who is:
- excelling at their job
- misreporting to appear more productive
- keeping within the baseline
- not doing their job properly
- struggling with the workload
One important thing to remember with remote teams is that productivity-tracking software should be used with the intent to help employees do a better job, not to control them. Using this type of software to micromanage your team is not the goal.
6. Identify High Performers
Once you’ve worked with your team for a while, it will be easier for you to pinpoint high performers. You can show how much you trust them and appreciate their work by delegating important tasks to them—just make sure not to dump too much extra work on them! Delegate their less-important tasks to other employees or new hires so your high performers can concentrate on higher-level work. At the same time, make sure that you are checking up on the rest of the team. Have one-on-one sessions with them and try to understand how you can help them become high performers. Leading with empathy is very important in a remote environment.
7. Check In Regularly
Once you’ve assigned tasks, don’t forget about them! It’s important to check in with your team regularly to ensure they’re making progress. Even when using the best coaching models and implementing written records and guidelines, there will always be miscommunications and misunderstandings. Having a good quality-check system in place can help operations move along smoothly, prevent mistakes, keep things from slipping through the cracks, and ensure that everyone feels heard when it comes time to give feedback or mid-project updates.
You don’t have to be physically present to delegate effectively. By giving clear instructions and regularly communicating with your remote team members, you can successfully distribute the workload, prevent confusion, and ensure the team follows your guidelines. Delegating tasks to less-experienced employees can help you focus on more important processes and strategic projects that will help your organization’s future growth.