Engaging and Managing New Remote Team Members
by David Roberts
In my ‘Tips’ article last month, I shared some thoughts on how best to recruit new staff, especially in the remote working world that we now inhabit.
This month’s article goes a step further to discuss ways to ensure that new employees are effectively engaged - in their role and with the business - and managed effectively when working remotely.
The main thing to get right at the beginning is the induction of the new staff member(s). Ideally taking place in person to allow for introduction to line manager, co-workers, to see and experience the premises of the business. This may not always be possible depending upon the ‘remoteness’ of the new employee. That said, I would always encourage induction to involve a physical meeting.
A good induction must be well organised with a clear ‘day 1, week 1, month 1’ plan.
The period of maximum risk of a new starter changing their mind and leaving the business is in the first few weeks, and usually because their induction wasn’t handled well. If an employee is remote from the main body of the business, they can feel very isolated, more so if you factor in time differences if they a based overseas. So take what steps you can to help them feel engaged, supported, and part of the team.
Buddy Them Up
A tactic many businesses use is to pair up their new hire with an existing employee as a buddy or perhaps even a mentor. Not only does this take the strain off the line manager, it allows the new employee, through a peer level relationship, to get the inside track on how things work, and enables them to ask questions they might not wish to ask their manager.
Line Manager Relationship
Without doubt the most important relationship for any employee, new or otherwise, is that with their direct line manager.
When we talk about Employee Engagement, this is the coal face so to speak. While the business leader clearly has a vital role, many organisations are of a scale where others are involved in management and therefore have a key role to play.
The old adage that people leave managers, not companies is quite true, but being a line manager, particularly when managing a dispersed team, perhaps with a mix of time zones and cultures, can be very challenging. Many organisations are patchy in terms of equipping line managers to perform their role effectively, particularly in very technical environments. Business leaders should think carefully about this. Ensure that line managers are selected based on aptitude for this aspect of their role, and invest in training.
Technology such as Zoom, Teams etc. provide tremendous capability that most of us were relatively unfamiliar with before the pandemic. These can be used very effectively for elements of the induction process, as well as to enable new employees to create and maintain relationships with co-workers. Collaboration tools such as Trello or Slack, or engagement tools such as Weekly10 have their place, not only improving productivity but also keeping employees connected with each other when working remotely.
Communicate your Plans
Finally, for many businesses, their plans were thrown up in the air by the pandemic. Short-term and tactical decision-making and action became the order of the day. That said, most businesses are now re-setting their plans and goals for the future, and it is vitally important that business leadership effectively communicates these to their employees and, of course, this is especially important in the case of new employees.
Ensuring that all staff - new or otherwise - are crystal clear about what is expected of them is of vital importance. Such as how they can contribute specifically to the achievement of business goals.
Hopefully, our move to a more remote-working world of work will cause more businesses to think about how effective they really are in this regard.
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