A GAME OF EXPECTATIONS
A remote team is much different than an office because of one sole reason: your value to the company and trust with your team are based entirely on your output. It does not matter where you work from or how you get it done, all that matters is that work gets done and at the level of quality that is expected of you.
For that reason, remote team management is, in theory, quite simple compared to an office environment: set expectations around output, attitude, and respect, keep them motivated and growing, and make sure they are delivering.
A lot of the politics that come with an office environment — from who sits where to who goes to lunch with whom — is irrelevant. It is entirely a game of setting expectations and delivering motivation.
Below we dive into setting the right expectations for remote teams and then in Chapter 4: Culture, we will dive into delivering motivation remotely.
SET THE RIGHT EXPECTATIONS
If you want to successfully manage a remote development team, this is the #1 key to it all: setting the right expectations.
Despite how easy it sounds, it is often overlooked. We have worked with many companies over the years that had not taken the time to set expectations with their own teams, making it challenging to understand upfront what success would look like for them once our developers joined their team. We often help companies to learn what their expectations are and to set them in place with all of their vendors and teams.
As long as you set the right expectations around availability, output, attitude, communication, etc., your remote team will thrive for many years (we have passed the decade mark now using this strategy).
However, keep in mind: this is a two-way street.
As much as you need them to meet your expectations to be successful, they also need you to meet their expectations to be successful.
That means they also have expectations around how you communicate with them, what your availability is, how you respect their flexibility, the opportunities for learning and growth they expect, etc.
IT STARTS WITH ONBOARDING
Setting expectations begins with your onboarding process. From day one (not day 60), your developers should be starting to learn and understand what you expect of them.
They might not perfectly execute those expectations in the first week, but over the course of a month, you will quickly come to learn whether your newly hired developer understands those expectations and can deliver on them.
Tip: Try to break up your onboarding across a two-week period.
We use those two weeks to introduce new developers to our core values, train them on critical remote communication techniques, and clearly express our expectations.
Each day, they learn just one piece of our “expectations puzzle” (so to speak), easing them into it to make sure they retain the information.
Tip: Use this opportunity to start meeting their expectations.
Remember: we need to know their expectations, too, and this is a great opportunity to revisit those expectations and to start building some trust by meeting them.
For example, if one of their expectations is around learning and growth opportunities, now is a great opportunity to start showing them how you will be delivering on that expectation and start them on that path.
Alternatively, if one of their expectations is that the team gives you ownership of your work, within the first two weeks, you should give them a task with full ownership.
Give them momentum by meeting their expectations, the same way you want them to gain momentum on your projects and meet your expectations.
Next, we will cover all of the different expectations you should set in your onboarding process.