How to Build Accountability Into Your Remote Workflow

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Managing a team is full of challenges. But for an increasingly-distributed workforce, the task can be even more difficult. After all, it’s not like you can just walk over to a team member’s desk and ask how they’re doing.

There has to be a high level of communication to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Each person has to be clear on their own responsibilities, along with an understanding of what their colleagues are up to. Team leaders? Well, they have to be on top of it all.

Teams that are unable to stay in sync are destined to have problems. Botched assignments and misunderstandings lead to missed deadlines – and poor project outcomes. It can be the difference between a successful business and one that goes under.

Thankfully, staying on task doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Today, we’ll introduce you to some processes that will improve communication and ultimately provide accountability for your remote workflow. Let’s begin!

Use a Project Management App

If you’re using email as the primary source of communication with team members – stop! Email threads aren’t the answer. They can actually have a negative impact on communication. Consider the following:

  • Email threads are easy to lose and could get caught in a spam filter;
  • The longer the thread, the more difficult they are to read and digest;
  • The incessant email notifications can cause stress;
  • It’s too easy to accidentally leave out stakeholders;

There is a whole wide world of cloud-based project management apps out there that can do the job more effectively. They’ve been built with the goal of bringing teams together and facilitating communication.

Tools such as Trello or Asana (among many others) get everyone on the same page – literally. Teams can create project threads, assign tasks, share files and communicate in a singular interface.

Can’t remember a specific detail or task? It’s easy to go back and find exactly what you’re looking for.

Best of all, tasks can be marked as completed. Team leaders will be kept in the know with regards to who has done what, along with any remaining items that need checked off the list.

Sure, there’s more to accountability than simply installing an app. But it is a great place to start.

Create a Review Process

As they say, two sets of eyes are better than one. And while having trust in your team members is vital, it’s still important to verify that everything’s going according to plan.

Ensuring that tasks are completed correctly and on-time is what a good project manager does. But not every firm is big enough to have someone dedicated solely to this responsibility. Indeed, it often falls upon someone with a lot of other items on their plate.

If that sounds like your predicament, there are some things you can do to help. For one, creating a streamlined review process allows you to check on progress and ensure quality.

The aforementioned project management app is one way to do this. You might set the app up to notify you as tasks are marked as completed. From there you can dig in, see how things are going and collaborate with individuals on any necessary changes.

The key here is in consistency. Once you have a process, you can work to make it even more efficient. Over time, it will become like second nature to both you and your team members. Plus, your projects will benefit from the extra attention to detail.

Invite Feedback From Stakeholders

Being a good listener is part of what it takes to be an effective leader. After all, if you don’t make the effort to understand the concerns of team members, how can you ensure the best outcomes?

Invite feedback at every opportunity. It’s is a great way to find out what’s working and what’s not.

There are a number of ways to facilitate this type of feedback. But the most effective may be in making it personal – as much as can be done remotely, anyway. That could take the form of group video conferences or even one-on-one phone calls.

You’ll get to understand the pain points in your processes, and better understand why team members might struggle with certain aspects. For instance, maybe there are some unnecessary steps that are holding back progress or goals that are completely unrealistic.

This benefits everyone and can greatly improve accountability. Your team may well be distributed in various locations, but each person still wants to be heard. Knowing that their opinions matter and their suggestions are taken seriously gives them a greater stake in the process.

Accountability Makes for a Happier Team and Better Outcomes

When things aren’t running smoothly with your remote workflow, you’ll see it in a variety of ways. Things like missed assignments, completed tasks that suffer in quality/accuracy and strained communications are all tell-tale signs.

That’s why building in accountability is so vital. Processes that help everyone understand their role and effortlessly collaborate will bring a sense of calm to the chaos.

In the end, stakeholders will spend less time wondering what needs done and more time actually doing it. They’ll more likely be active participants as projects move along.

An engaged team is a happy one that also produces better work. Shouldn’t that be the goal of every team leader?