Managing a team always has its challenges, but managing a remote team significantly increases the degree of difficulty. “It can be really difficult to connect with others,” says Lindsey Donner, chief content officer of The Community Company. Without the familiar cues of body language — and the watercooler gossip and office politics — managers of remote teams have to put in extra effort to make sure people are connected.
Lindsey joined us for Managing Editor Live 2019 to share the lessons she has learned in managing her remote team and the importance of going the extra mile.
If you’d like to hear more from her about managing a remote team, watch the full session here.
Prioritize Communication Skills
We’re all great communicators in the world of content marketing — right?
Well, only to a point, Lindsey says. Many of us are great at the written word, but we struggle when it comes to communicating via other means. “It can be challenging for us to come out of our shells,” she says.
Lindsey’s team uses a series of video interviews in its hiring process. The first is a solo interview, while the second involves several members of the team. She says it’s a way to examine how a candidate interacts with others:
“Are you comfortable sitting in a room by yourself, like I’m doing now, talking at a screen? Does that cramp you up?”
Be a Role Model
Part of a manager’s role is to model behavior for the team. But working remotely presents a challenge — how do you model behavior when there’s no one around to watch you? As with all the challenges on a remote team, managers must make an intentional effort to communicate well.
First, set boundaries, such as muting Slack after work hours. Second, model how you want people to behave when they slip up. “Own up to your mistakes,” Lindsey says.
Finally, be open to new ideas, whether that’s for a piece of content or an anonymous survey about your performance. Exhibiting that openness will show your team that feedback is nothing to be scared of. More importantly, it will bond your team together:
“If you’re accepting the emotional labor and being a great communicator — and giving feedback when it counts — you’re going to end up with some awesome people on your team.”
Watch Lindsey’s entire session about managing remote content teams and browse the rest of our recorded sessions on managing a modern marketing team.