Managing Remote

Daily Habits of a Successful Remote Manager

The audio version of the Daily Habits of a Successful Manager Blog Post

Bitter reality: Having 10 years of management experience in an office is great but it doesn’t mean that you are going to be a kick-ass remote manager in a Class A Remote Company. Most of the remote companies are looking for remote experience in the past. The way we work is changing faster than ever now, so you have two options;

  1. I’m too old for this shit, remote work is crap
  2. How can I get better in a remote work environment?

If your position is the #1, you’ll probably get eliminated during the application process since a true Class A Remote Company is definitely going to test you and go beyond your “I love remote” type of comments in the interview to get the job.

Is your inner voice keep repeating #2? Great, you’re in the right spot. WorkRemote is dedicated to supporting people and organizations thinking like yourself, with the courage of leaving their comfort zone and embracing new challenges.

👩🏻‍💻 Talent is the rocket fuel

Your first and most important task is reviewing the testing process for hiring your future subordinates. As the business legend, Andy Grove says, “your time is the only finite resource” and below-average hires mean you losing the only resource you can’t ever replace. This is one of the highest leverage activities of your first business day as a remote manager.

I can almost hear you saying “what if I am inheriting an existing team”. Doesn’t matter, you will need to top-grade your low performers in the near future anyway. Keep a healthy talent flow into your team at any cost.

While working on candidate testing content, there is always a moment where you think “Nah, this is too much”. Regardless of job function, NO, it is not. That’s exactly what you need. Global remote work means opening your virtual company doors up to almost 8 billion people on earth. Given the facts, getting help from professionals (like HackerRank, Criteria Corp, InterviewMocha, etc) is a wise choice if you don’t feel comfortable building challenging tests.

There is something wrong in your hiring process if you end up hiring over 1% of your remote job applicants.

📊 Data is your friend

It’s not as simple as it sounds. You will have somewhere between 4-5 times more data to consume in a Class A Remote Company compared to your previous in-office experiences so sharpen your SQL and Google Sheets skills. You’ll have to actually lead by example here and that means hard work. Bring your 100% to work for 40 hours a week and never settle down with anything less than that from your people.

You may have a great track record but honestly, no one cares. Get ready for higher expectations and pressure. I was shocked by the amount of unintentional social media and news consumption I had in my first couple of weeks as a remote professional. Start by measuring your productivity using one of the tools (tool suggestions at the end of this section) and follow a waterfall strategy going down to your less-experienced subordinates. Be crystal clear about it during the hiring process and interviews. Establish data-driven trust between the organization and people.

Above all, you will need productivity and time tracking containing data packages with app and time usages from your people for answering these crucial questions:

  1. Why top performers are performing great?
  2. Why bottom performers are performing this way?
  3. What tools the top performers are using?
  4. How do top performers manage their time?
  5. Can I turn my bottom performers into top performers in two weeks?
  6. Who should I replace for optimizing my average team performance?

You will find amazing tools tested by our editorial team in the Remote Work Software Stack section. If I were you, I’d bookmark that page. Honestly, I wish there was free advice like this when I started working remotely about four years ago.

🤷🏽‍♀️ A remote manager does not wait

Some cultures are very heavy on company policies and guidelines. I witnessed fresh hires from global companies suffering from the lack of guiding, documentation, and process in a remote environment. Higher-level professionals from developed markets are more likely to suffer due to their previous experiences, especially in a remote startup.

The fastest way of undermining your remote success is waiting for someone to tell you what to do for more than a day. Do what you have to and steer the discussion on the data you have in hand. No manager wants to hear excuses vs results. You can’t optimize excuses and 1 is better than 0.

🙋🏾 Over-communicate

Sococo - Virtual Office for Remote Teams
Sococo – Virtual Office for Class A Remote Companies

First of all, try to get rid of your old office habits, do over-communicate and use a simple language. You can’t force people to go online out of their work hours – technically you can but it’s not healthy and error-prone in the long run. Weekly team meetings are an exception, for which you will need to find a common timeframe considering where your people live.

Furthermore, ASAP is your enemy and pointless meetings are poison. If you are not familiar with Asynchronous Communication, invest your time in it. Be the expert of async communication and encourage it in your remote circles.

  1. Nobody should wait for anyone, all the data should live on the cloud with enough documentation attached. Consider using…
    1. BlueSpice for support teams as a single source of truth
    2. Github or Azure for development
    3. Google Drive or Paper for general
    4. Marvel or Zeplin for UI/UX design
  2. Everybody should have access to the mission-critical assets for their roles. (This can be a code repository, a document, a database, media library, anything you can imagine)
  3. Get to know your people, bring in the virtual watercooler discussions into your remote office. Learn more about their cultures and personalities. Most importantly, their ambitions. Fear is not always the best tool for motivation. Sococo helped us a lot.
  4. Learn how to write in a clear and simple way, the default behavior should be updating other team members using small log sentences.

✅ Daily Checklist of a Remote Manager

  1. Do daily check-in chats: Meet every single one of your direct reports every single day for 15-30 minutes, ask how they are doing, actually mean it and listen.
  2. Do Gemba walks: Leverage the data you have in your hands, review their time data together in a call, and ask if they need any tools and technologies for getting better. don’t expect improvements while you sit in your virtual office, go down to the assembly line
  3. Review performance: Stack rank your direct reports based on performance and show the bottom performers they suck and provide coaching
  4. Review compliance: We covered how important it is to have a continuous flow of productivity data, identify high performing business behavior using top performers’ data and track the compliance score of the other team members. Nurture average team performance.

‘How to’ Remote Work Content Series

Do you have other daily rituals as a remote manager? Share in the comments and let’s build the checklist together.

Written by Sinan Ata, founder of Exceptionly, the remote software engineering talent acquisition engine.

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Sinan Ata
Founder of Exceptionly, the remote software engineering talent acquisition engine.

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  1. So glad I work with my hands in a trade than this made up bull shit.

    1. Good for you, which part sounded like made up?

      1. It’s OK Sinan. Remote work is not for everyone.
        I truly enjoyed this article as I can relate to it after being a remote worker for 4 years (at crossover)

    2. Great article Sinan. Lot of the challeges you described are similar to what i found in my Bsc. research gathering data from a remote company.
      One of the delicate points you mentioned is the management of potential top performers (bottom performers here) as I found the handling of this being a great challenge to leaders. Furthermore, the company wide alignment of processes seemed also tricky as each leader also had his/her own way to shape their teams 🙂

  2. Very well written, Sinan. Nobody could have articulated it better than you.

    1. Thanks Arvind, glad you enjoyed it. I’d love to read your pieces on remote team management.

  3. great article, with a really nice structure around it. I have one additional ritual in remote teams. It’s not daily but it’s a must start for every new team member: schedule a 1o1 with every team member, including leads and managers, introduce yourself and get to know them.

  4. I liked to much this article !!! Thank you to write about !
    Pedro Luís Filho

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