Non-Negotiable Leadership Communication Skills For Remote Managers

7 Leadership Communication Skills for Managing a Remote Team

By Gaurav Sharma, founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company he grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Radical Candor, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more. 

It’s no news that remote work has become the norm since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite many folks returning to in-person activities, many employees still work remotely, and many managers’ leadership communication skills with their remote teams leave a lot to be desired. 

While working remotely has its perks, such as more flexibility, it also has major challenges. One of these is effective communication

Non-Negotiable Leadership Communication Skills for Remote Managers

In a Forbes study, 49% of respondents stated that ineffective communication affected their productivity.

How do you keep everyone on the same page as a remote team leader without face-to-face interactions? 

Well, the answer lies in what you’re about to read below. I have compiled a list of the seven most important leadership communication skills for managing a remote team.

Let’s get into it.

Want to improve your remote communication skills? Let's talk! 

7 Non-Negotiable Leadership Communication Skills for Remote Managers 

Leadership Communication Skills for Managing a Remote Team

 

1. Create an Effective Remote Team Communication Strategy

First things first, your communication needs to be strategic.

What tools do you use to reach out to your team consistently? How often will you engage with your team members?

These are some important questions you should cover with a communication plan.  A communication strategy prevents remote teams from feeling disconnected, alongside many other issues that come with inconsistent communication.

The previously cited Forbes study shows how poor communication affects trust in the workplace.

So how exactly do you put this into place?

First, determine the communication channel that will be most effective for your team. While the old-fashioned email might work for communication that doesn’t require an immediate response, you might need something different to replicate in-person, impromptu communication.

Remember that everyone is different, which is why you need to ask each member of your team what works for them. While some people may want to talk on the phone several times a day, others might find this disruptive and stressful. 

Don’t assume that what works for one person will work for every person.

That being said, for effective communication with remote teams, you should also look for an interactive communication channel that everyone agrees on, like Slack

Also, your communication plan should include your meeting schedule. The meetings could be daily, weekly, or any other time frame that works.

Learn the art of impromptu conversations >>

2. Make Sure Your Communication is Specific and Clear 

Leadership Communication Skills for Remote Managers

One of the biggest communication challenges remote workers face is a lack of clarity. Some workers may not know their exact duties, deadlines, and performance goals because no one has explicitly told them.

Radically candid communication is measured not at the speaker’s mouth but at the listener’s ear. So while you think you may had communication with someone, if they didn’t get the message, your communication was not effective.

So, as a remote team manager, you need to communicate the team goals effectively. Ensure each team member knows the objectives and how to align themselves with them. 

Your communication should be precise and concise. The employee should know how and when to complete tasks.

I’d recommend creating a priority list for each task for your team members. Also, setting clear performance standards helps with effective team communication.

Alongside the goals, you also need to set clear deadlines for tasks and projects. For instance, if your team is working on influencer marketing campaigns, state clear performance metrics using the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) method.

Ensure each team member knows how you’ll evaluate their work by setting clear expectations and performance metrics. With these, you could limit misunderstandings and guarantee accountability and effectiveness.

3. Create An Accessible Remote Workplace Culture

CORE Leadership Communication Skills for Managing a Remote Team

As I stated earlier, what works for one person does not work for every person. This is especially true for folks who identify as neurodivergent.

Since neurodiversity is a spectrum, understanding how to effectively communicate with someone on that spectrum depends on getting to know the person well enough to understand how they like to communicate and whether or not they need any workplace accommodations to set them up for success. 

If a teammate has disclosed they are neurodiverse, the first thing a leader should do is solicit feedback from that person about what they need to be successful. (This article from Forbes is a great resource.)

When giving feedback to neurodiverse employees, use concrete examples and avoid vague or ambiguous language. Double down on being clear and specific. This can help neurodivergent individuals better understand the feedback and make any necessary improvements. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using the CORE model. Feedback should never be about someone’s personality or about any aspect of their neurodiversity. 

Consider tailoring your communication style to accommodate their needs. Some neurodivergent individuals may prefer written communication over verbal, while others may benefit from visual aids or structured frameworks. 

By adapting your communication style, you can ensure that your feedback is effectively received and understood. The rules of remote work are not inflexible. While many leaders recommend in-person or on-video conversations, that might not be effective for everyone and it’s OK to adapt your communication medium to the other person’s needs.

Create a safe and inclusive environment where neurodivergent teammates feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. Encourage open dialogue and actively listen to their perspectives. By fostering a culture of respect and understanding, you can create a supportive space for everyone to thrive.

4. Double Down On Active Listening On Remote Teams

Active Listening: Leadership Communication Skills for Managing a Remote Team

 

Managing a remote team isn’t just about giving directives and getting feedback. It’s a lot more than that.

One of the most important leadership communication skills you should have is listening skills. And not just listening skills, but active listening. While getting feedback from your team members is great, how you understand and act on the feedback is equally important.

Picture a scenario where a team member shares an idea or gives feedback and you aren’t paying attention. This usually leads to miscommunication and could affect the team’s cohesion.

Active listening involves paying attention to each team member. It involves staying engaged with each conversation, listening with the intent to understand, and asking clarifying questions without rushing to reply.

The goal here is to understand the speaker’s perspective, ideas, or even complaints. 

You’d also need to pay more attention to subtle cues while communicating with team members virtually. 

Be interested in and actively listen to what your team members are saying. One of the main perks of active listening is that it makes team members feel valued. Active listening also provides the best opportunity to understand each team member. 

If the communication isn’t clear, you can ask follow-up questions.

You can learn each person’s preferences, needs, strengths, major challenges, and more just by listening actively.

Active listening doesn’t stop with you. It can become the team culture. To encourage active listening, use interactive communication channels. For instance, video calls can help improve communication within a remote team.

Encourage other team members to pay more attention to team discussions as well.

Ensure you acknowledge work well done while motivating them to get even better by showing everyone what good looks like.

5. Lean Into Empathy (Not the Ruinous Kind)

Compassionate Candor: Leadership Communication Skills for Remote Managers

Your team members aren’t mindless robots. It’s important to show empathy and compassion when communicating with your remote team members. 

With online communication, it’s quite easy to send a strongly worded message that can come off as harsh. This is because the natural body language cues are absent. 

How can you avoid this?

Adopt Compassionate Candor. Compassionate Candor engages the heart (care personally) and the mind (challenge directly). It’s communication that is kind, clear, specific, and sincere.

Compassionate Candor focuses on leaders demonstrating that they care personally about their employees as human beings.

This includes learning about their aspirations and goals through Career Conversations and regular one-on-one meetings, demonstrating an interest in helping them achieve them, and making clear that feedback goes both ways. Caring personally builds a foundation of trust that allows a culture of feedback.

6. Boss Up Your Written Communication Skills — AI Can Help

 
While it’s true that you should take advantage of video and audio communication, written communication is also important. There will be times when you’ll need to send a quick email or a Slack message. Because of this, you should hone your writing skills.

For starters, ensure you organize your thoughts properly when writing. You can draft and edit your messages and announcements to get a refined output.

When using written communication, you should be concise and precise. You do not want to drown your team members in a wall of text. Break down your text into easily understandable formats.

Using tools like Grammarly to check your tone, clarity, and message can help take some of the guesswork out of effective written communication. Leaders can also use products like Textio to ensure that written performance feedback is unbiased.

If writing is a difficult communication medium for you, consider recording yourself talking and then use an AI program to transcribe and synthesize the message. You can join Radical Candor’s weekly AI Live chat to learn more about how AI can simplify some of your work.

Watch our weekly AI Life chat >>

7.  Foster Inclusive Communication On Remote Teams

 
Remote work has given individuals from different walks of life the platform to work together. To recognize and respect the diversity of your team members, you need to adopt inclusive communication.

Here’s how.

First, ensure your communication does not discriminate or stereotype anyone based on gender, age, race, etc. Show respect for each team member’s identity. For instance, you can adopt gender-neutral language when communicating with your team members.

Also, you can ask your team members how they want to be addressed. Learn the right way to pronounce their names, while using affirmative and empowering language. 

Learn more about this in Radical Candor author and co-founder Kim Scott’s new book Radical Respect: How to Work Together Better.

I always recommend using each team member’s preferred communication medium, especially when it isn’t a team meeting. Ensure there are different communication options available to foster inclusion.

Most importantly, ask for feedback from your remote team members and be willing to improve your verbal and written interactions based on that. A detailed guide by Attrock provides some more tips on how you can effectively manage a remote team.

Ready to Develop Your Remote-Team Leadership Communication Skills?

I know managing a remote team is a lot of work. However, these leadership communication skills can help you keep your team engaged and efficient. 

Always keep in mind that the major goal of communication is understanding. Work on these skills I have listed above and watch your team blossom.

If you have questions about leadership communication skills for managing a remote team, email advice@radicalcandor.com or ask our AI Radical Candor bot (personally trained by the Radical Candor team).


* Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. He grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Radical Candor, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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