Managing a Remote Team: Progress Monitoring and Motivation

Progress review and motivation are an irreplaceable part of the remote team management when working on software development. Nevertheless, these important steps are often deemed secondary by some company leaders and product owners. They seek totally self-motivated people ready to work solely on project-related tasks, lacking time for self-development, and needing no recognition. The bad news is that such people hardly exist. Every mature personality sees their professional life as a path of personal growth and a way to find social recognition. This is the reason why performance reviews, motivation, and rewarding are a must in any teamwork.

Talking about the ways to organize this team management aspect, remote work, self-isolation due to coronavirus, and lack of direct communication make it harder for product owners to arrange the process. Therefore, working with freelancers or partnering with talent sourcing companies may not be the best strategy in this case. Alternatively, outsourcing the work on your product to a software development company providing full-cycle services can be killing two birds with one stone: you get your project delivered and the development team fully managed at the same time.

Let’s take a closer look at what are the next steps once you have your team hired, onboarded, and actively working on your project. Waverley Software, a software development company, is happy to share their best practices of managing a successful development team.

Performance Monitoring

Of course, during the hiring stage you will make sure your future team members are reliable, punctual, and responsible people you can trust. But accountability matters at any time. For business owners and decision makers, it is crucial to understand the amount of time and effort spent on completing each task and project. There are several components of this process.

Monitoring Policy

Before you start any performance monitoring activities, make sure to put your team members on the same page by introducing your Monitoring Policy. Everyone in your team must be aware of the fact their work-related activities are to be tracked. In addition, they should know the rules and conditions that are implemented within the company and follow them. It is also important that your team members know how to use all the tools and applications serving this purpose to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. For this, create a document containing a set of rules they must observe and share it with them as a must-read during the onboarding stage.

Task Management

There are a number of task management applications out there that can be used as a separate tool or integrated into a company’s ERP system. Take Asana, Basecamp, Trello, or Teamwork, for example. With this software, you can stay in the know as to who is doing what, track task progress, set deadlines, and use a bunch of other useful features for project management.

Time Tracking

Time tracking makes you aware of the real time spent by your team members on particular tasks. In turn, this helps you calculate how many resources you use or, probably, need to add or remove. You can also export timesheets and activity reports and share them with your clients to show you have nothing to hide and are responsible for the tasks you undertake. Imagine how this will boost their trust. Don’t fall for the temptation of using this for micromanagement, though. The tools you can use include Harvest, Toggl, Timely, or My Hours, among others. Some of them can be integrated with your task management software to make the process easier for your team members.

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The Culture of Monitoring

Having the monitoring policy, task management and time tracking tools in place may be not enough unless you’ve established a culture of time tracking and monitoring among your team members. This means reporting becomes a part of your daily operations, a habit. Filling out all the necessary fields at the end of day or month by hand from memory won’t make a good practice. Furthermore, time tracking and monitoring should be perceived positively by your team – as a means for staying aware and accountable, not a way to spy on them.

Over the years of practicing remote work, teams at Waverley Software have developed a strong culture of self-control, responsibility, and accountability. This serves as a proof of its team members’ maturity and readiness to work for a goal, helps them to stay organized regardless of any emergencies, and promotes customer trust and loyalty towards the company.

Team Motivation

Initially, your team members can feel motivated by the compensation you offer, perks and benefits included, nice working conditions, friendly team and so on. But, in the long run, people get used to what they have and may lose interest or that spark for work they used to have when you just started cooperating. Therefore, incentivizing your team members with additional goals can make a great difference. So what can be done?

Focus on Result

Paying too much attention to insufficient details and hair splitting are the top acknowledged motivation killers. In contrast, setting specific goals and working towards them as a team helps encourage separate team members to act and make their input. Additionally, focusing on result gives people the relative freedom of choosing the ways to reach it, boosts their creativity, and makes them more proactive.

Interesting Tasks

As your team members become more experienced and mature while working on your project, they may start feeling that the work they’ve been doing for half a year is not as challenging as it used to be. Make sure your people continue growing professionally by assigning more demanding tasks to the more experienced ones and leaving less complicated work to the junior teammates, newcomers, or trainees. Senior-level professionals also appreciate when they are trusted and given the right to make important decisions based on their vision.

Attention to Self-Development

Self-development is an important aspect of worklife for mature professionals. Thus, your team members will want to take additional courses, attend conferences and seminars, organize and speak at public events. Such activities help them fulfill their ambitions and feel satisfied with their work, and, as an employer, you might look for ways to support them: reimburse a course fee, sponsor a conference participation, or offer to provide help in organizing an event. Your team member gets help, and your company gets a loyal and motivated team member.

Regular Reviews and Evaluations

Setting the objectives, passing the milestones, and reaching the specific goals helps to form an impartial evaluation. Regular performance reviews are motivational in the sense that they encourage your team members to achieve more, move to a new level within a set time frame. In turn, this helps your company ensure a continuous growth of your team members.

Company Culture and Values

Both customers and employees choose particular companies because of the values they embrace. Make sure your company outlines a set of key principles and follows them in treating their team members and serving the customers. If you find people sharing your company’s values and beliefs, you can be certain that they will be your most motivated, reliable, and loyal team members, provided you stick to what you preach.

The team members at Waverley Software, for example, are highly motivated by the principle of Responsible Freedom: they have the freedom of choosing when and where to work provided the deadlines are met and clients are satisfied. This way, the team members take care to have their job done because they value the ability to be their own boss and organize their schedules themselves.

Rewarding

Everyone wants their job to be rewarding. Everyone is seeking acknowledgement. Everyone needs to feel as an important and irreplaceable part of a mechanism. Making you team members feel this way will result in their proactiveness, efficiency, and diligence at work. This is the task of rewarding. Let’s look at some ways to realize this.

Bonus Points

This can work as both a motivator and rewarding system. Offer your team members to collect bonus points for performing certain optional tasks. This can be their help in organizing an event, cooperation with other departments in solving a problem, assisting colleagues in completing a task, or any other work-related issues. Active team members get points for fulfilling each task, and later on, they can exchange these points for a set of bonuses a company may offer, for example, an extra day off or reimbursement for attending a paid seminar.

Celebrations

You can use the formal setting during a work meeting or gather your team for an informal meetup to celebrate an achievement of one of the team members. Be it passing a certification test, reaching a specific goal, closing a great deal, or even simply being a part of the team for some period of time. This way, you make everyone in your company feel appreciated and their work valued. In turn, you may observe increased motivation and work efficiency. Attention to birthdays and special occasions also gives people the sense of significance.

Promotions and Career Growth

This is probably the most wished-for form of rewarding and professional recognition. And the most responsible and weighty decision on the part of the business owners and managers. Promotions must always be made based on objective criteria and the results of the process of monitoring and performance review over a set period of time. Promotion to a higher position or level is not simply a salary raise, this also means more responsibility and independence, therefore you should be confident about the person you are going to promote.

At Waverley Software, it is already a tradition to celebrate the achievements and special days of the company team members. The system of “bonus points” also works for encouraging cooperation among different teams or departments, when people know their work beyond their responsibilities will also be rewarded. Before promotions to a higher position, Waverley team members must pass a strict performance review against a specifically designed competency matrix.

To sum up, it is important for every employer and business owner to realize the important role of progress monitoring, motivation, and rewarding in the entire process of team management. Once they become a part of the company’s routine of people management, you will observe how easily you can measure the work efficiency and quickly optimize it.

Waverley Software has almost three decades of experience working with and managing remote development teams in different parts of the world counting more than 230 team members. Therefore, the company’s team management processes are now well-polished and cultivated over the years of practice through trial and error, resulting in happy customers and successful projects.

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