Managing by task for remote productivity

By Neil Shorney, Director of Navanter Knowledge Bites. Time to read: 2 minutes.

I hope you’ve got some ideas about the needs of your diverse team members after part 1 of this series.

Here's my next key element for remote management: Tasking.

When managing remotely, the key to success is managing by task. Employees, particularly junior ones but not exclusively, need to feel that their efforts are being noticed. But when either they or the manager are working remotely, this becomes a problem, because they don’t feel noticed, unless the manager takes extra steps to show appreciation or interest in their day-to-day work.

By managing by task, rather than relying on general office communication, managers can give employees a much greater sense that their efforts have been noticed.

What does “managing by task” mean? It means basing a lot (but not all) of interaction time on tasks that need to be completed. It means taking a greater interest in an employee’s progress through a task, rather than just acknowledging completion. And it means offering the right level of support throughout the duration of a task.

The key for the manager is to set tasks at the right level – not so small that they’re finished within a couple of hours, yet not so large that they become daunting. Then, the manager/leader needs to help the employee to think through how they’ll complete the task, and check in to offer assistance and guidance as the task progresses.

This has soft benefits for the employee, in that it becomes much easier for the employee to demonstrate their results. It also has benefits for the manager, who can keep a closer eye on the progress of tasks, and resolve minor problems before they become serious.

Look out for the next post, when I'll share with you a powerful framework to guide tasking conversations.

I've created an infographic of 4 key areas to consider for effective remote management. You can grab yourself a copy just here. 

Or why not check out Knowledge Bites' courses in the Remote Management Toolkit:

Managing Remotely

How To Facilitate Effective Virtual Meetings

Delivering Remote Feedback

Motivating From A Distance


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