Why Remote Management Leads to Micromanagement
Micromanaging is an easy trap for remote managers to fall into while looking for some semblance of control. It's like managing with training wheels, the easy way out. The pandemic took away all certainty and it's no surprise that lead to micromanaging. Without being able to watch someone's behavior as they're sitting next to you, it can be hard to trust your team is doing what they need to be doing.
The solution? Explicit goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that ensure the team is delivering exactly what they need to.
If set correctly, the goals and KPIs give the manager peace of mind and the direct report the freedom to get their work done as they see fit. Then both parties only need to check in on real progress and bottlenecks. The pandemic forced many teams into remote work unexpectedly, and those organizations were often not set up to have goal transparency that allows a manager to track progress without micromanaging, both from a strategic point of view and from the day-to-day operational perspective, e.g., what software are you using to track all of this information.
Being a great remote manager means setting up these goals, making sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), and using the available technology to track these goals in a meaningful yet not overly time-consuming way.
In short being a good remote manager comes down to creating certainty:
1. Being able to define the strategy for the team explicitly and break it into actionable goals.
2. Being transparent about these goals, with direct reports, peers, and upper management to avoid miscommunications and uncertainty.
3. Letting direct reports know how they are tracking against their goals, while praising them for their successes and helping them navigate challenges.