Blue Beyond Consulting

Cultivating the Mindset of an Effective Remote Manager

Thanks to advanced technologies, changing corporate policies, and the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is becoming more common, and popular, than ever before. According to Gallup, 91% of workers in the U.S. working at least some of their hours remotely are hoping their ability to work at home persists after the pandemic; 54% of employees who work remotely at least some of the time say they would ideally like to split their time between working at home and in the office. As more people shift to a remote or hybrid work model, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually be tasked with managing remote employees either some or all of the time (if you’re not already).

Being a remote manager requires many of the same skills that you may have acquired in-office; however, there are nuances to serving, leading, and guiding a remote team. While remote work offers numerous benefits for both you and your employees, it can present a few challenges for team leaders that will require significant changes in attitude and behavior.

To help you overcome these obstacles and ensure you and your employees are working effectively from anywhere, we’ve put together some considerations for being an effective remote manager.

Change Your Mindset

The first step in being an effective remote manager to your team is understanding how your mindset may need to shift in order to best support them. Mastering an effective mindset starts with examining your fundamental beliefs about both the current pandemic situation, and the people you manage.

It’s important to acknowledge that managers are…well, human! Just like the employees you lead, you’re likely dealing with your own uncertainties and distractions. If you’re struggling, read our guiding principles for leaders during a physically distant, socially connected time to help you reframe how you’re thinking about working with your teams — they’re counting on you to model a mindset of determination and togetherness.

Reevaluate Your Communication Style

The biggest difference between managing a remote team versus an in-person team is…wait for it…communication. When it comes to communication, there’s one form that is more popular than others in remote teams: Writing.

This is a change from the usual in-office behavior that relies on face-to-face interactions.  And many managers are now utilizing videoconferencing to try and replace the quick in-person chats; however, overuse of is contributing to burnout. How many Zoom meetings have you created just to ask a question? Or find out the progress on a project?

Rethink your approach to communications and ask yourself – can this be an email or a quick IM? Switch your strategy from “speak first” to “write first” and be intentional about social connection. It will help your teams avoid burnout and enhance their well-being.

Examine Your Beliefs

Third, take time to examine the beliefs you have about your team to ensure you’re leading in ways that support their success in a virtual environment. Make a list of helpful manager mantras that embody beliefs like trust, support, and teamwork – and then lead with behaviors that reflect these beliefs back to your team.

Here are some essential mantras to get you started.

Mindset mantra 1: I believe times of change are opportunities to strengthen my bond with my team.

  • Behavior to reflect this mindset: We know people do their best work when they feel safe, and ensuring your team feels safe takes extra care during periods of uncertainty. In fact, 84% of knowledge workers believe trust and psychological safety is important. Find ways to lead with trust and empathy as you weather challenges together. A great example: welcome a child that appears in the background during a video call…maybe even have them say hi to the team. Allowing space for humanity helps your team know that you see them as the whole people they are, and creates an environment where employees can — and want — to do their best work.

Mindset mantra 2: I believe my team will adapt, grow, and innovate when faced with challenges.

  • Behavior to reflect this mindset: Shift your energy and attention to activities that will produce the greatest output. Great managers will be a driving force in removing roadblocks to improve productivity. This may mean reevaluating your team members skills and interests and aligning work to that. Remember to give everyone a full picture of why something is being done and consistently check for workload overload and re-balance if needed. Create a feedback loop for everyone to understand what they’re doing well, what could be improved, and how you can help. Prioritize tasks and set clear, written expectations of what everyone is working on.

Mindset mantra 3: I trust my team members to work effectively in the ways that are best for them.

  • Behavior to reflect this mindset: It’s time to trust your people and embrace an asynchronous work style. Your team will likely be working across distributed time zones and around various personal and professional needs. Don’t make assumptions about productivity based on your perceptions of the time they are spending at their computer. Understand that the way your team is working likely looks a lot different now, and allow plenty of time for planning ahead, making decisions, and giving good direction and feedback.

Evolving your mindset as a remote manager will take continuous, conscious self-examination and a personal commitment to shifting how you fundamentally think about work and leading people.