Managing employees is a difficult job even when you see them every day at the office. Add in a remote setting and it becomes even more difficult because it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach.
Working remotely doesn’t mean that you can’t be an effective leader, it just means you have to do things a little differently and work a little harder on this critical skill: understanding the personalities of the people you manage.
According to the Predictive Index, there are 4 drivers or motivating needs that have the biggest effect on employees and their workplace behavior: dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. Think about how your direct reports like to communicate, and how do they like to receive feedback? I bet they aren’t all the same.
Will you need to tailor your leadership style to each direct report’s needs? In short, yes. But the more insight you have into employee behavior in the workplace, the easier it is to make adjustments.
Here are 4 simple questions you should ask yourself about your employees:
- What is their dominance level? You will need to manage your team very differently depending on their dominance level. Highly dominant people tend to work better remotely because they don’t need the interaction. They like to own their projects and do it on their terms with little oversight or interference. Someone who has little dominance prefers to collaborate on things – they like a team effort to get tasks done. They also avoid conflict when possible and seek compromise. Less dominant people will need more interaction via phone, email, video, share documents, etc.
- Are they an extrovert or introvert? People who are extroverts, naturally more outgoing, can be affected by working remotely far more than introverts, who tend to be quieter and more reflective. Extroverts may need more time to acclimate and find a rhythm including more check-ins via phone or video with you and the team. Introverts may settle in very easily and need very little interaction to be successful, but you should find a schedule that works for them to still check-in. They may even have some excellent tips for working remotely that can help your extroverts.
- What’s their patience level? This is important because employees who have more patience typically like more stability. Less patient employees like change, juggling multiple projects, and variety. Your more patient employees will embrace a sense of calm and help you support other team members – they just need time to adjust and set their pace. Less patient employees will be looking for some variety in their day – without the office environment, even the new home routine can start to feel mundane to them. Find ways to mix up their day as much as possible.
- Are they formal or casual? Employees who are more formal enjoy more structure. They like rules and follow them and like clear expectations of what you want from them including deadlines. More casual employees like flexibility over rigid structure. Rules are more of a guideline to them and they don’t want to feel micromanaged.
Adopting a different leadership mindset sooner rather than later will help you better manage your remote team. Not only will you be more successful if you adjust your leadership style to match your team, but you’ll find that they will be more successful too – and happier.
If your remote team starts to grow, here are some great tips on how to adapt your leadership style from a small group to a larger group.
Vice President, Lakeville Manager