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Remote project management is becoming more popular. But how can we make these projects a success? How can we empower our team to thrive even when we aren’t there? Although we’ve explored methods to make remote teams more efficient, how can we still keep the human touch and manage our teams better?
Project managers have it hard: we are responsible for the project but not the people; we are responsible for the output but not the work. Most project managers are familiar with how to manage their project team indirectly. Face-to-face interactions with project team members are a common way to get them to agree to your will. But what if you are unable to meet face-to-face? Remote project management is the answer to this dilemma.
Remote project management strategies
These are my top tips and tricks for remote project managers or those who are interested in remote project management. I also share how I adapt them for remote project management.
I have always believed that candy makes friends. I brought a large candy container with me to every job. I would stock it with a variety of treats. I started to get to know my coworkers and would start buying more of the things they liked. I was building a foundation to be The Person Who Always Haves Candy. You’d be amazed at the number of people who will gladly come to your desk if they have their favorite treats. I would ask my more difficult teammates what they ate often and take notes. If I had a tight deadline or knew that one of my teammates was working on competing priorities, I would take a few candies I knew they loved best and walk over to their desk. I would just leave the candy, and not say anything. I would send them an IM about an hour later to ask if they wanted to chat. They almost always did because they were so thankful for my thoughtfulness in delivering their favorite treat. You can do this with sodas, office supplies (yes really), and even grabbing items from the printer and delivering them to your recipient so they don’t have to get up.
[Tweet “Candy makes friends .””]
What strategy is there for remote project management? The bribe gets more complicated. I still get to know what they like and how they would appreciate it. I either send them something that I have packed myself or I check Amazon.com for something nearby to me and have it delivered. I don’t bribe as much as I used to when I was face-to-face, but the fact I go through so many difficulties makes my teammate feel great, and they never forget that you went out your way. This is usually done during a long stretch of programming for developers or at the beginning a design cycle for UX/UI teams. If the project is complex, I will send it at the beginning to QA or at the end if it is simpler.
Create a team atmosphere
Many project managers, including myself, try to get the team excited for the project at kickoff. Even though we have done 100 projects together, I have always tried my best to create a team atmosphere by naming my teammates and their roles on each project. I look at each person in the eyes and convey my welcome to the team. This creates a sense of ownership where each member of the team takes responsibility for their own part of the project. Although it may seem small, I have found that it is a great way to keep teammates engaged.
Most project managers celebrate the completion of a project in some way. This could be going out for lunch, ending work early, and enjoying food and drink.