How to Be a Better Manager in an Ever Increasingly Digital Environment
The world has been digital for a while now, but only just recently has that digitization shifted to include the entire workload of your employees. Managing today means shifting away from the old paradigm into a new management style that puts more emphasis on results than the process. It shouldn’t matter to you if your employees don’t keep traditional work hours when they work at home so long as they complete the work that you set out for them and do it well. Focusing on results rather than chaining employees to a desk is an easy way to offer them a better work/life balance.
Your employees can move further away from your office and enjoy a higher quality of life because of it. They can work in the comfort of their home and even in their pajamas. They can eat better, spend time with their pets, partner, and children, and they can even get chores done while they wait for a response rather than sit and stare at the wall.
There is a lot that your employees can get up to in the day, yes, and as soon as you stop thinking of paying them for the hours that they do and instead for the results that they can produce, you will see that digitizing your work further is a great idea.
You can be a great manager, and you can successfully lead a winning remote team, but like everything, there is a learning curve. Knowing what you need to make that turn towards this new paradigm requires self-reflection and also trial and error. With this guide, you will learn how to better manage and build up the necessary skills to continue to lead your team and company towards the future.
Why Businesses Need to Adopt the New Normal
The pandemic brought many things to a boiling point. Lockdowns and quarantine resulted in many being let go and many more quitting or looking to quit and start somewhere new. This has become such a big trend that it is being referred to as The Great Resignation.
There was no stopping the people who quit during the pandemic, but there is a way to stop people from quitting now. To start, you need to send off the old way of working. It is dead. Even Google, the tech giant notorious for its stressful working environment, knows that there is no return to the old office life.
Employees are now working entirely online, or they are working in a flexible environment where they go into the office one or two days out of the week.
The good news is that as soon as you accept this change, there are opportunities to be had.
Productivity was consistently up when workers were remote. Work/life satisfaction was also up thanks to remote working. While there are benefits of going into the office, you will find that you only need employees there a few days out of the week for those benefits to occur.
Offering remote or flexible work, however, is just step one. Managers and business owners need to adapt their management style and bring in new tools so that they can monitor the progress of their employees and manage that remote team seamlessly and with confidence.
To help you become a better manager in this increasingly digital workspace, you will need to increase your management skills, audit your current workflows, bring in the right tools, and, of course, be prepared to do it all over again to keep up with the next big paradigm shift.
When and Why to Get an MBA to Help You Lead
One of the best ways to improve your skills and prepare to move up to increasingly more executive-level roles is to earn an MBA. There are many different specializations and concentrations that you can opt for when getting an MBA, allowing you to really focus on what your career or business needs.
If you work in accounting already, for example, then earning an MBA online can help you advance your skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. You will also gain a business perspective and will learn how to lead more effectively. All of this will allow you to improve your decision-making and allow you to employ a different way of thinking that will significantly improve your ability to manage your team.
MBAs have always adjusted to suit the ever-changing needs and demands of the workplace. Earning an MBA today will include how to manage a business with an ever-increasingly digital presence, including how to lead a remote team.
With remote teams, you can offer improved work/life benefits, but remote teams mean a lot of individual gears in the machine being scattered. Managing a remote team is possible, but it will require a drastic shift in your mindset and in how you lead. An MBA can not only prepare you to lead overall, but it will help you prepare for the future needs of your business.
What Tools You Will Need to Manage a Remote Team
Though you shouldn’t hold your employees’ hands through every task you do need to stay up to date with what they are doing so you can keep track of progress. The good news is that there are many programs today that offer this easily.
Remote Task Monitoring
You can start by workshopping what everyone needs to do and can get done in a day during your office days. Work out what goals you have and work with your employee to break down those goals into tasks. Upload those tasks into the task manager so that your employee can note down when they are finished with that task and their progress through the next at certain intervals in the day. You can easily monitor everyone’s progress in an online portal without badgering your employees for updates.
As for remote collaboration, you need to move away from emails. Emailing back and forth is a time-consuming and uninspiring process that does not help anyone in-office or remote. Instead, you need cloud-based tools that allow for real-time collaboration. This includes on-document editing and real-time chatting with the others that are working on that specific document.
Review and completion tools are also useful. If your employee sends a draft of the project, you should be able to select text or areas on the image and write notes and requests before sending it back easily. Your employee will then review these requests, set them as resolved, and send them back so you can compare the before and after easily.
Data Analysis and Reporting
Reporting is another very important tool you will need. You need data, analysis, and reporting to be easy and even automatic. There are many tools that make this step a breeze. In fact, there is likely a tool that is designed specifically for your industry. Work with the developer to set it up, especially if you run a medium or larger company that has a lot of gears so that you can have a custom solution and reliable reporting system you can use to see the results and make adjustments to your strategies from there.
Last but not least is automation. Computers were meant to make the workload of employees easier, and yet employees now work harder than before. This is because productivity increased, but administrative and repetitive tasks have not. You don’t need a person to do simple tasks that can easily be handled by automation. You need people to be there for when there is a creative problem or when troubleshooting is essential.
Setting up automation means you need programs and systems that can speak to one another. You may even need a specialist to come in to set up your automation so that you get the most out of it.
Done right, you can automate many mindless administrative tasks. This will free up your employees’ time and give them more space to provide better results on the creative challenges.
What Tools You Do Not Need to Manage a Remote Team
You do not need a system that tracks keys and mouse movement. This is a very aggressive nannying approach that employees do not appreciate and, more importantly, has easy workarounds.
After all, it doesn’t help if your employees are researching. It doesn’t help when they are waiting for a response from their management before they can make the next step. It simply chains them to their desk so that they cannot get the most out of the benefits of working from home. You do not need them to actively be there moving their mouse around when they are waiting between tasks. Instead, you need them to be ready to handle those tasks with the right attitude.
Having key trackers only means you don’t trust your team. It will enforce a negative management style that will trickle down into the attitudes of your employees.
You need a team that you can trust to do the work you need and to do it well and on time. If they cannot do that, then write them up and, in worst-case scenarios, show them the door.
There Isn’t a Best Practice Yet
There are many different leadership styles. This meant there were many different ways to lead a team effectively in the past. Today that fact remains the same with one big difference – there is no best practice on how to manage a remote team yet. Everyone is still getting used to the idea of remote work, and management teams everywhere are still workshopping.
You, too, will need to workshop and find the best approach to managing your team. This includes figuring out what tools you and your team use and also what management style works best with your specific team.
A great way to figure out the best management style and approach for your own business is to take your skills and what you have learned, either on the job or through a professional learning module like an MBA, and then workshop with your employees. They are on the other side of that coin, and working with them to find the best structure to their remote day, the best tools, and how they work best is how you will create the ideal remote working environment as a manager.
The good news is that these tips will help you at all levels. It will help you when you manage a team of just a few people, and it will help you when you have an entire department or division to manage.
There is no one-size-fits-all in business. There is, however, teamwork. To be a great leader, you need to trust the people underneath you, so work with them to create the best approach and management strategy for this new means of management.
Never Forget Your Customers
When it comes to managing, you can never forget about the customers or clients on the other side of the coin. Putting their needs at the forefront will allow you to prioritize the tasks that matter most to the customer.
The good news is that many of these new tools can actually be useful for improving the customer service and experience you offer. That task management tool, for example, can be adapted so that customers or clients can see and stay up to date on the progress of their orders with confidence.
That real-time collaboration tool can also come in handy if your service allows clients in-depth access to the creative process. If you are designing a brand strategy for them, for example, you can create the mockup and have the client go right in and discuss with the designer about what they want, need, or were expecting.
Done right, all of these changes to your management style can improve the quality of work and quality of life of your employees. These systems can then easily lend towards improving the level of service you offer your clients. The world is becoming more digital, and that can be a great thing when you embrace it, so open your arms today.