Management Skills for Navigating the New World of Remote Work

Adapt to working remotely with clear communication, constructive feedback, and more.
By Lindsey Marlowe

Last Updated: October 7, 2020

Published: June 25, 2020


The world is shifting into a remote space. Now more than ever, companies need to pay attention to the physical and emotional health of employees. They need to do this while leading their teams to better performance.

M13 Partner and Head of Talent Matt Hoffman moderates this panel discussion about the rapidly changing world of work. Matt is joined by:

  • Himanshu Kalra, Head of People at Capsule
  • Jolie Loeble, Vice President of People at Daily Harvest
  • Cara Brennan Allamano, SVP, People, Places, and Learning at Udemy.

    These experts dive into how they're adjusting to managing their own high-performance cultures. Learn what you can do to ensure your organizations are operating at their peak during this global shift. With the working world faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, understand how these leaders are navigating unprecedented times and developing performance in remote environments.

    Coming from diverse backgrounds, the panelists dive deep into actionable advice for remote leadership. With strong communication being absolutely crucial to this remote world, Matt, Himanshu, Jolie, and Cara go deeper on their remote communications. We’ve recapped some highlights from the discussion below, followed by the full webinar video for the full conversation.

What managerial skills are most important in a remote environment?

Take a step back to learn about yourself. You must be able to take care of yourself before you can help others. Understand your thoughts and feelings, and what you need to personally process.

Hone your listening skills. Be able to unpack situations and go below the surface to understand what may be going on with individuals or groups in your organization.

Get in tune with your empathetic side. There is potential to see a shift in productivity or quality of work, so being mindful and empathetic in your approach is important to focus on.

Collaboration and communication skills are the true differentiators for companies in a remote world. Having strong relationships within an organization creates an informal connection that systemically strengthens an organizational structure.

For any organization, the quality of the management is so important for driving performance, engagement, and retention.

Matt Hoffman

What are some approaches that can help cultivate growth and effectively communicate in this environment?

Maintaining the right levels of communication is crucial How often are you communicating? Are you communicating effectively? Are you finding ways to substitute day-to-day nuances?

Start the day together as a team and talk about what is ahead. Connect on who is tackling what, and check in on team members to see how they are doing.

Find the balance between social, work, and rest. Zoom fatigue is a very real thing, so striking a balance between social check-ins, informative communication, and taking cues from your team when they need a break.

Encourage transparency within your team. Be transparent about progress every week, and encourage your team to ask questions.

The true differentiator for companies that will be successful in this environment is the ability to accelerate the behaviors and indicators that organically occurred in real life, like listening, empathy, and our ability to communicate and collaborate.

Cara Brennan Allamano

How can managers give productive feedback in a remote environment?

Create a culture of learning. Engage in a culture of learning to encourage productive feedback conversations.

Look at the personal and the professional. These two worlds are colliding and you’re going to have to manage the whole person.

Create a framework for feedback. At Udemy, Cara’s team created a canvas based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to cover personal and professional areas to understand how to better communicate in the new remote environment.

Give positive feedback publicly. You can give constructive feedback privately. Help work with them to coach a new type of behavior, because they may not be aware of the impact of their behavior.

Know how to identify if things are getting off-track. Interjecting and letting people know when a conversation has lost its course is important. A common phrase to interject is “why don’t we take this offline?” which can lead to a more constructive, private conversation.

What does being a “good manager” look like when most of the staff isn't working in the office?

Good managers manage themselves, manage others, and manage their network. They know their strengths and gaps, and understand that they see the world differently than how those on their teams see it.

They can act quickly, when needed, to create certainty. Good managers can resist acting under pressure. When there are no easy answers, they can reflect and listen.

Transparency is important, especially in a time of uncertainty. There is a disconnect when working remotely, and you’ll want to make sure your team feels connectivity and feels like they are informed. Share information that keeps them connected to the company and the culture.

Don’t skip out on those one-on-one meetings. It’s important to invest that time with individuals that report to you, because they’re behind the scenes preparing for that conversation. It’s a meaningful time for them to get things approved and to share what’s happening to them.

One of the strongest takeaways from this conversation is the importance of clear communication. Through transparency, feedback, and active listening, leaders can effectively promote growth in this new work environment. With the world of remote work shifting into the new norm, this panel of experts provides key insights on navigating the nuances from behind a screen.

Watch the full conversation below for more insightful discussions:

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