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Engineering leadership | Blog Post

10 Best Practices for Remote Team Management – Part 1

Wes Mitchell-Lewis

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This is Part 1 of our 3-Part Series – Continue your learning and check out Part 2 & Part 3.

This is your one-stop-shop for insights covering everything from interviews, onboarding, async communication, learning & development and so much more. We’ve compiled the top tips, tactics, best practices, and real-world examples of remote team management.

Let’s dive in.

1 – Run the Best Remote Interview

In Terminal’s developer 2020 Report, 9 out of 10 developers surveyed told us they believe the developer interview is fundamentally broken. Frustrations like disorganization, too many rounds, and long delays in communication are turning them off of companies.

With many employees now partially or fully remote, it is the companies that reinvent their interview processes that will win candidates.

Here are a few things to consider in making your remote interview as pain-free as possible:

Don’t Over-Index On Technical Skills

Of course, continue to run tech interviews and make sure they have the skill sets needed, but a barrage of code reviews and exercises can turn people off the process.

Look for ways to analyze how they solve problems, such as a systems design interview where you can work through a problem together.

The Interview Process Should Not Be One-Size-Fits-All

Ensure to take cultural differences into account. Developers in Mexico, for example, don’t commonly create long, detailed resumes and they prefer take-home exercises versus synchronous whiteboarding.

Taking time to learn about interview best practices in each region can help you overcome subconscious bias from entering the process

Gauge Non-Technical Skills

Autonomy, proactivity, collaboration, and strong written & verbal communication are just a few of the things that can make or break a remote employee. Be sure to screen for these using some of our included questions.

Check out Terminal’s Definitive List of Remote Developer Questions

2 – Start Things Off With An Outstanding Onboarding

Onboarding can make or break the employee experience at any company, remote or not. A great onboarding provides a sense of community that leads to long-term job satisfaction. 

Studies show that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Most importantly, don’t just rely on HR to run an onboarding system for the whole organization. Spend some time building out an intentional program for your teams.

Here are three main themes that drive our onboarding framework:

Set Each New Employee Up For Success

  • Reach Out Early. Onboarding begins in the weeks before an employee’s first day. Send them a description of their role, an onboarding outline, and other relevant information.
  • Set Clear Expectations. Give new hires milestones to hit to help them advance quickly. Be sure to outline how you expect them to approach work as a remote employee.
  • Provide Abundant Resources. Give each new employee an in-depth overview of any virtual community benefits that you offer. Everything from employee resource groups, learning and development offerings, and social networking opportunities should all be outlined so employees can feel equipped.
  • Assess Their Workspace. Some of your employees will be new to remote work. At Terminal we provide an evaluation to new remote employees of their at-home workspace to see how it could be better optimized for productivity.

Create A Standardized Global Experience While Maintaining Team Autonomy

  • Develop A Handbook. Documentation is crucial for remote work. Start a handbook that documents everything about what it’s like to work at your company. The more detailed and prescriptive it is, the better. Revisit it often and empower employees to add to it.
  • Assign Roles For Your Onboarding Team. When a team has a new employee joining, make sure that every team member knows what’s expected of them for getting the new hire up to speed. Who can they go to with questions for each area of need? Who can be a buddy on the team for overall support? What’s the manager’s availability? Ensure that expectations are being shared and that the team structure is laid out.
  • Create A System For Feedback. With remote work, it’s important that every process lives, breathes, and evolves daily. Onboarding is no different. Once new employees have completed their onboarding, you should allow them to provide feedback to help you improve your onboarding program.

Foster Immediate Connection To Mission And Community

  • Develop A Buddy System. 87% of companies that assign a mentor or a buddy during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency. It’s a great way to form early social bonds and gives your new hires someone they can turn to if they have questions. At Terminal we hold a virtual global onboarding where new hires can meet each other and feel connected to a global community.
  • Personalize The Experience. When it comes to remote onboarding and remote work in general, managers must know each individual’s personality. This can go a long way to ensuring that employees find their place in the company and carve out a role that’s meaningful to them.
  • Make Hiring Managers Accessible. 72% of employees say one-on-one time with their direct manager is the most important part of any onboarding process. Make sure that hiring managers block off time on a new employee’s first day to welcome them, and schedule regular check-ins between managers and employees.

3 – Set Clear Goals & Expectations 

Trust is an often talked-about topic in remote work. Lack of visibility into the day-to-day efforts of remote team members can invoke fear in managers – even though the data tells us productivity for remote work is usually much higher.

The good news is that trust can be created and maintained by knowing your team is meeting their goals – and then creating mechanisms to track progress and hold your team accountable.

Drive Accountability

You can set goals all day – but unless you’ve built mechanisms to help the team get work done and be accountable for those goals, it’s possible some team members may fall short.

Create Focus Time

Communication can be a huge time suck for remote teams – be sure that managers are giving team members time to get work done.

Try setting aside two, three-hour focus blocks a week. During this time no meetings are scheduled, the team turns off Slack, email, and other distractions so everyone can just work.

Goal-Setting Tip: Gather Input

As you begin the process of creating goals, be sure not to do it in a silo. Remote employees often feel like goals and projects are thrust upon them, furthering that visibility and trust gap. Meet with your team for a quarterly goal-planning exercise and listen to what they see as important projects as well as what’s achievable for them each quarter.

Report On Progress

Build mechanisms where team members report on the progress of their goals each week, whether that’s an async update or a round-robin during the weekly team meeting.

Use 1:1s Effectively.

Instead of going over status updates, use your 1:1s to coach and develop your report, resolve problems or blockers to their work and help them advance professionally. Encourage your direct reports to create an agenda for their 1:1s so they take charge of their performance.

This concludes Part 1 of our three-part series. Be sure to check out Part 2 & Part 3!

We hope you were able to learn today! Keep exploring the rest of Terminal’s content offerings and if you are interested in learning more about how we can help you accomplish your growth goals, please

Get in touch with our team

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