Studies show that focus is one of the most difficult things for people to manage.
As a manager, it’s critical to make sure that your team is on task. That they’re focused on their responsibilities. That they’re working toward the company goals.
One of the trends in the business world is remote working.
This can make it seemingly more difficult for managers to keep things on task. Both for the workers and for the manager. If the manager isn’t there with the workers they can wander a bit and struggle to stay on task just as much as a worker.
If you’re thinking there are issues with the focus in your remote company here are some tips.
1. Know Their Interests
I’m a big believer that it’s difficult to force motivation in people. It’s difficult to bring out motivation in others. It seems to need to come from within. Especially for the long-term.
Most people have their own interests and motivations. It’s the manager’s job to figure out how to align the interests of the team members with the goals of the company.
Talk to your remote team. Get to know them. Their work. Their history. Their interests. The more you learn the more you can put them in the best position to succeed within your company.
2. Limit Company Distractions
You might not be able to cut down on the distractions in a person’s life. They might have struggles in their personal affairs. Really, that’s not something you can control, but that’s where a manager’s mind often wanders. Blame starts coming out.
But what you can control are work distractions.
If a remote worker is struggling with focus go through their work schedule. Look at your interaction with them. Look for drama in the company. See if there are distractions from your side of things and look to remove those.
Sometimes a worker may be receiving too many work emails and it’s distracting. Maybe it’s too many random phone calls where they have to drop everything.
Look at what you control when it comes to distractions.
3. Provide Plans & Schedules
People like structure. Look at what you can provide for your team as far as plans and schedules. They want to know what’s coming. They want to be able to plan out their days, weeks and months.
The more you can provide that structure, while barely ever changing it, the more focused you’ll find your team operating.
4. Create Smaller Tasks
One of the reasons it can be difficult to stay on task is that a task seems too big.
Think about it, if you want to grow your company by 10x and just stop the focus there you’ll likely be paralyzed. It’s too much to focus on. You can’t get there fast. It will take time and also numerous smaller tasks along the way.
Make sure that the tasks you’re giving your team aren’t too big. If they are look to break things down into much smaller tasks. This way the worker can get things done and move on to the next small step.
5. Organize Everything Work-Related
Building on #3 is doing as much organization as you can. Not just scheduling things, but making sure that the business is organized. When you’re organized the chances are better that your team will be organized. when you’re scrambling they’ll be scrambling.
6. Encourage Sleep
There seems to be a big pride in not getting sleep. I don’t get it. It’s definitely not a badge of honor. Encourage your team to sleep. Get sleep yourself. Lead by example with sleep.
When the team is rested they can better focus.
7. Offer Clear Priorities
One of the challenges for employees is not always knowing the priorities of things. You go to them with one task this week and another task next week. How are they supposed to know what to focus the most on if you’re always giving them something new?
If you do give something new make sure there is always an understanding about priority. Because there will be conflicts and your team will need to know what comes first.
8. Be Available
For questions, concerns, to help, etc.
Your job as the manager is to make sure your team has everything they need to succeed. If a team member has a question about something and they have to wait on you to provide the answer they’re going to lose focus. They won’t be able to move forward. Or worse, they might be forced to make an assumption and they’ll be afraid that you might not approve of that assumption.
You control your availability to your team. Switch the focus around to yourself. If there’s a problem, focus on being more available.
9. Allow Autonomy
One of the basic human needs is autonomy. We want independence. We want to be in control of our own lives. When others try to take too much control of our lives we get defensive. We get distracted. A whole mess of bad can seep in.
As the manager, it’s a balance. You have to keep things on task. You have to provide direction. You have to provide guidance. But you also have to know when to let your team do their thing without breathing down their back with added stress.
10. Lead By Example
A final one here is to lead by example. Things do typically trickle down from the top in a business setting. If you’re distracted and lacking focus then the team will likely see that. Even with a remote team. They’ll see it in the communication. They’ll see it with how you get things done.
I have a new baby daughter. I’ve been reading about new parenting. One of the tips was that if the child is doing something the first place you should look is at yourself. They are great imitators.
So are employees.
Focus is important for the success of a business. There are challenges with remote teams. I think there are more advantages, but it takes extra effort to keep things focused. These tips above are things I’ve seen work. They’re not always easy to implement, but the more you work on them the better things will be.