How to Manage a Remote Software Development Team

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

If I learned anything from my previous team building experiences, it is that building and maintaining a healthy remote software development team takes hard work, trust, and belief in each other. You must build chemistry if you want to succeed.

There are numerous challenges you will face when building a remote team. How do you keep in touch with your team members if they’re on the other side of the world? Do you do daily standup meetings over Google Hangouts?

This is challenge number one. But another challenge which is quite important is how to build a remote software development team that works well together and can continue to move forwards despite being stretched across different parts of the world.

Give Sense of Ownership & Pride To Their Work

At the end of the day: if your contributors feel that they are not responsible for the project, they will feel like hired hands and not actual team members.

Remote is the product of all it’s contributors, not a brainchild of its management. people need to have the sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. That means that they should be involved in every process, from defining the scope and goals, to making decisions about how to structure and organize their workload.

If you as a manager are taking all the responsibilities for organizing your team's work, then people can feel like they’re not really contributing. And after one or two days, they’ll simply stop doing it.

Give people a sense of control. Let them develop their skills and contribute to the projects the way they see fit. Encourage your team to take ownership of all aspects of their work.

Seek Consensus Only When Needed

To move fast, we have to take decisions and default to action. As someone managing a team, you need to know when it's appropriate to let the group come to a consensus about a decision.

You need to be smart about whether or not a discussion over a particular course of action is productive, or if it's just distracting from the group from sticking to the main focus and making fast implementation.

Act quickly and work iteratively until you have something that works. The only decisions worth taking a long time on are those that are irreversible and large. But as someone managing the team, it's best to have figured out your goals beforehand, to ensure that group meetings stay productive.

You want to make sure each team member knows their own work and the goals they're trying to reach. It should be up to your team members to decide on how they should manage their remote work.

This means two things: They're free to decide on when, where and what tools to use to accomplish a task. They're always thinking independently. This also means speaking up and taking initiative if they have reservations about something.

Managing a team is an equal balance of shared responsibility. Everyone needs to feel a sense of ownership and pride about whatever it is they contribute. You can make that happen by giving them the freedom to feel responsible over their own work, and over the decisions being made as a team.

A smart team manager knows when it's appropriate to allow space for consensus and to reinforce boundaries in order to keep the teamwork aligned and implementing on time with goals.

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