By: Tatiana Lozano
When you are a manager in an office, your main challenge is effectively managing your staff, but when you are managing distributed engineering team your challenge is not only managing them but leading them to greater success. Your challenge is magnified by the many dimensions you need to take into consideration to make your team as cohesive and efficient as possible despite the physical barriers, cultural differences; and aid them to connect with each other although some of them might have never met in person. In order to help you become a better manager for distributed teams, especially engineering teams to lead these great people to their best potential you must have in consideration the following aspects:
1. Effective communication
This might be obvious, but communication skills are vital for remote employees who have to clearly communicate ideas to their colleagues and customers, they need to feel comfortable with video conferencing now that they usually spend a lot of time doing that and might need to document key information for your business that could be used by clients and future developers. The first step in providing effective leadership to your distributed engineering team is through communication. Your main goal is finding ways to facilitate communication among them and eliminate any barrier. When hiring, it is highly suggested to make sure to have a video interview to meet the candidate and source for this unique and important skill.
2. Productivity, tools, and process
Leading a productive distributed team may seem challenging, but if you use the right tools and techniques, you can foster productivity within your team. The tools need to match the processes that are key to the client — reporting, code reviews, and type of stand-up meetings, for example, Setting clear objectives ensures that your remote team has a clear understanding of their role and what it’s expected from them. Likewise, if you set a clear agenda for meetings, this will ensure that they don’t waste time unnecessarily.
Another way to lead your distributed engineering team to success is by providing consistent feedback and this is so much more related to trust than you can imagine. A critical tool to develop trust, for example, is the weekly one-on-one checks with your remote engineers and these informal sessions should allow you (and your remote engineer) to be honest and discuss workload, hurdles, and even career goals. Investing time on trust-building activities with your remote team drives motivation and accountability.
3. Create Personal connection
For co-located teams, it is easier to create connections but for distributed teams, this is not usually the case. Cultural differences, language, and work style are usually obstacles when trying to connect with a colleague, especially for remote engineer colleagues. Consider establishing a personal connection with all of your distributed engineers right from the beginning to maximize collaboration and motivate them to do the same with the rest of the team. For example, by allowing for informal communication through social media or informal groups, you will facilitate them to know more about each other.
4. Create a blended work environment for engineering teams
Analogous to the mix of brick-and-mortar stores and online presence that is key to certain segments of modern retail, Yuxi incorporates best practices for the remote teams but also integrates real-life meetings. Time zone, high English proficiency, close cultural fits are hallmarks of the best Nearshored companies. As Medellín has direct flights to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, we plan for tech leads to come onsite with clients every 3 or 4 months for roadmap reviews.
This strength simply is not feasible if your firm has opted for other-side-of-the world development work. That trek will certainly be 14 hours with connections in London and Timbuktu.
Finally, clients should insist on being able to visit the development center and leadership, on-site. If this is not highly encouraged by your development partner, please do more due diligence!