Manage your field team takes skill. You need to be able to prioritize, delegate, and communicate well. You also need to know when it’s time to step back and trust your team members to do what it is you hired them to do.
When your team is dispersed in the field, team management becomes even more challenging. You may have field workers that span the city, state, country, or even globe. Perhaps you have different time zones or communication logistics to contend with. Either way, you’re unable to rally your team together in one place, at one time. This makes it much harder to keep your workers motivated and engaged.
Below are five tips relating to best practices and helpful tools to help you navigate the challenges of field team management.
1. Focus on deliverables.
When you’re managing an office team, you get to see your employees at work. Some, you may notice, spend far too much time chatting with colleagues at the water cooler. Meanwhile, you may notice others putting in hours of overtime in the boardroom and at their desks.
When you manage a field team, however, you can’t keep an eye on workers. As a result, you need to modify your benchmark. Instead of evaluating your workers based on the busyness you witness by eye, you need to focus on their deliverables. All that matters is that they achieve what you’ve tasked them with achieving.
2. Trust your team.
As a team manager, you can’t be in multiple places at once, which means you can’t oversee all members of your team. This is good news. Many managers find it hard not to micromanage their team members. With a dispersed field team, however, micromanagement is impossible, which makes way for a better approach.
Say your company collects charitable donations by going door to door. Whether a field worker knocks on 10 or 100 doors an hour, you’ll never know. All you’ll ever know at the end of the day is how much they’ve collected. Subsequently, your measure of success becomes results – as it should be.
Rather than micromanage you team, you need to adopt an empowering style of management, which looks more like this:
- Trust your team’s abilities and judgments (remember, you hired your field workers because of their skills and capabilities)
- Give your field workers the freedom to make decisions without your authority
- Encourage a two-way dialogue so that both you and your field workers can give and receive feedback
Coral Collect is one of many tools available that support a more empowering management style. It doesn’t only facilitate real-time communication. It allows you to avoid micromanagement by selecting only those elements that you genuinely require feedback on.
3. Prioritize strong communication.
Maintaining communication is key regardless of industry. When you manage a field team, however, it’s especially important.
From obtaining updates on jobs, costs, and/or asset information to managing data collection and reporting, having the right tools in place is essential. It helps your employees do their jobs efficiently. It can also give your workers the chance to connect with one another remotely, which helps build morale.
4. Keep an eye on the field.
There’s a big difference between micromanaging your field workers and keeping an eye on their progress. Invest in the systems that provide real-time visibility and you’ll be able to:
- See which field workers are where, and when
- Gain real-time access to data collected without having to bother your employees
- Identify and prioritize tasks, and schedule them more easily
- Organize resources more efficiently to deal with unexpected circumstances
- Increase your operation’s efficiency and decrease risk
A transparent view of operations empowers teams to make informed and responsible decisions. Real-time visibility enables your business to plan, predict, and detect faults throughout operations. Better yet, it can help you prevent errors altogether.
5. Use technology to your advantage.
There are many tools available that can help you keep your remote team connected and monitor your business operations. Take Slack, for example. Slack has numerous features that help teams communicate easily and efficiently, no matter where in the world they are. It also has organizational tools designed to help manage project flow.
There are also data collection tools like Coral Collect. Coral Collect includes a map that shows you and your field crews where they’ve been and where they have yet to go. It also lets supervisors monitor the progress of data collection so they can manage field operations from their desks in real time.
The tool you choose depends on your business’s unique needs. Find the one best suited to your team and watch your productivity improve.
Team productivity depends on team management.
Which of the above steps have you taken to overcome communication barriers, minimize inefficiencies, and keep your team productive and engaged? Which of these tips will you try next? If you need support managing your field team remotely and improving the efficiency of your data collection methods, learn more about Coral Collect today.