The Best Remote Team Management Tools for Business


What are the best remote team management tools?

The best remote team management tools. Right now, this is a hot topic.  With businesses now deciding on how to return to the office and make the best use of working from home for their teams, getting the balance right is going to be crucial for the future success of all businesses.

So much has been written about building great teams, that I’m going to keep these tools very simple.

The main thing to remember is that teams are made up of individuals and to treat everyone the same within a team is a mistake.

The tools that I’m about to take you through need some flexibility.  One size does not fit all and as a leader or manager, you need to adjust your language and approach to suit all members of your team.

The second principle to remember is that if you have more than eight people in a team, you need to start a new team.  Eight is the maximum direct reports any leader or manager should have and six is preferable.

So, if you have a team of nine or more, you need to create two separate teams.

I recorded a FB Live video called How to Manage Teams Remotely

So, let’s get started:

Remote Team Management Tool number one:

Build Trust

Nothing good will ever happen in your team unless there is trust.  All good relationships are built on trust and I prefer to start relationships with the trust jar full of trust cookies and only remove a cookie when trust is broken.

Some people start with an empty jar of trust cookies and wait for people or teams to ‘prove’ their trustworthiness.  This is the wrong way round and only leads to deep distrust amongst the entire team.  You cannot prove a negative.  It’s impossible.

A great trust building tool for remote teams is to hold a video conference call and share a  little known fact or story from their past.  Nothing too personal or dramatic, but something that will show their vulnerable side.  It’s important for the leader of the team to go first and lead the way!

A Healthy Working Environment is essential for leading remote teams successfully

This means you have to have healthy debate, honest and open discussions and the ability to give honest feedback to your team.

Even face to face this can be a difficult thing to get right.

Again, the leader or manager of the team needs to be able to accept feedback from their team and be seen to act on it.

Leaders must always ‘go there first’ to demonstrate that they are prepared to do exactly what they’re asking of their team.

When you’re working remotely, it’s best to ask questions rather than dictate answers or bark orders.  A strongly worded command over a telephone or zoom call will sound ten times worse than delivered face to face. Because so much of the body language and context is lost when you can’t be in the same room as someone.

Healthy Working Environment

A healthy working environment is about setting the scene for the teams you’re working with.  Because they can’t see and hear what’s happening day to day in the business, you’re going to need to fill in the blanks.  So spend time explaining where the business is up to. How it’s performing and why you’re asking someone to do something or change something is absolutely crucial to the healthy debate.

Have a way of flagging up when someone really isn’t happy.  Because video calls are hard to gauge real emotion through. Take a sensitive subject offline onto a phone call or a one to one video call rather than a group meeting.

Be honest with yourself and whoever you might be giving feedback to or disagreeing with.  If you came across as too aggressive, you need to accept that with good grace and apologise. Particularly if that’s not how you meant to come across!

Ask for feedback.  This is more important than ever when working remotely with teams.  You have no idea how you’re doing as their leader unless you ask.  Plus, when you ask for feedback on how you’re doing, your team are likely to ask you for feedback on how they’re doing. And so a cycle of feedback is created and feedback is the breakfast of champions!

For the best remote team management – your team needs a clear cause

Now, more than ever it is important that your team understand exactly where it’s heading.  What’s the vision for the business and the individual team?  This needs to be stated clearly and concisely and every couple of weeks.

This is so important when you can’t see each other every day.  People easily forget the vision they’re aiming for as they get caught up in the day to day activities.

Have a theme each week that feeds into the vision.  Hold a ‘town hall’ every month over zoom to reinforce the vision. Give updates and share wins and lessons learned from failures.  Keeping remote teams on track with this kind of shared cause is crucial to success.

Full accountability is very important in your remote team management toolbox

What does this mean exactly?

Well, when you delegate a task, make sure you delegate the responsibility and accountability for the completion of that task.  This means your teams are fully accountable for the delivery of an objective.

As their leader or manager, you are accountable and responsible for guiding and supporting them. For answering any questions they may have and only stepping in if they get really stuck.

Once you’ve delegated an objective to your team, the trick is to leave them to get on with it.

Because they’re working remotely, set in times and dates for them to report back on progress. Make sure they understand that they can come to you in a crisis or when they really can’t get past a problem.  Otherwise, you should leave them to it.

If you don’t have a team that you can trust to get on with this level of accountability and responsibility, then you need to look at the behaviours you encourage and whether you’ve been micro-managing them and not letting them think for themselves.

A great tool for accountability when working with remote teams is to have a check in once a week where you don’t say anything. Each team member reports back on progress with their part of the objective and you simply listen. Praise where needed and ask questions for understanding.  The team must organise this meeting themselves and it should only take 30 minutes depending on the complexity or timescales for the objectives you’ve set.

Everyone should be clear on exactly what’s expected of them after every team meeting.

Freedom and outcomes for remote team management tools

This element for remote team management is part of the accountability piece.

Your remote teams need to have freedom to make certain decisions and accept responsibility for the outcomes.

They need to have a way to review objectives and projects that is healthy and leads to further progress and development.

I personally, love the Gibb’s Reflective model.

Gibbs Reflective Model

Encourage your remote teams to use this in order to have a constructive way to review progress and take an objective view of a project or goal they’ve achieved or not achieved!

It’s a great model for you to use as a leader too, to reflect on your own performance.

Next Steps

I have a whole bundle of courses to you help build great teams, remotely and face to face.

These courses are worth £/$594, but you can get this bundle for only £/$197 (this gives you LIFETIME access).

There are 6 courses in this bundle, giving you skills in

  • 1. How to have great conversations, even difficult ones
  • 2. How to play to the strengths of your team
  • 3. How to attract and retain talent in your team
  • 4. How to engage your employees

Click here to see What’s Right with Your Business with the Fuel My Business App.