How to manage a remote recruiting team

Apr 02, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

Spring is here, but this spring doesn’t feel the same for most of us. It’s the end of March, which for many of us might as well be Week #167 of social distancing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Whether your team has been working from home for a week, a month, or has always worked from home ‘sometimes,’ the way we work has changed a lot during this global crisis, and it won’t be the same for the foreseeable future. For those of us still lucky to be working as many Americans have been laid off from their jobs, learning to work with a (suddenly) fully remote team is a welcome challenge. Talent acquisition leaders can do a lot of things to better support and manage remote teams of recruiters, while keeping up with recruiting objectives during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ask yourself: do the team objectives need to change? 

If your team isn’t accustomed to working from home full time, the change might feel dramatic to your employees. What’s more, most people currently working from home are now trying to do so with spouses and kids stuck at home with them, increasing the challenges of staying productive while working from home. As a leader, this is a good time to reevaluate the team’s objectives and look for projects that can be delayed or reduced to alleviate some pressure from the team. On the other hand, there may be new objectives you want to adopt that are unique to this uncertain time. 

When you communicate with your team, make all of your expectations clear to them, including when you expect them to work and what your plan is for checking in or delivering updates. Make sure your team has plenty of opportunities to ask clarifying questions to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Working with a remote team can easily lead to misunderstandings if employees are left to make assumptions, so make sure your team feels comfortable reaching out when they need clarification. For instance, you might schedule time during regular check-in calls with individual employees to review their current marching orders and offer any details that may have been overlooked previously.

Staying connected and cohesive. 

You know you need to communicate with your remote team, but we’re not talking about filling up their inboxes with a litany of emails. If your team members have already been working from home on occasion, you may already be accustomed to using video conferencing tools to stay in touch. Now, those tools have become more important than ever, especially in areas with ‘shelter in place’ orders that prevent people from socializing in person. Help keep your team’s morale up by using video conferencing tools to socialize as well. Schedule or make an option for ‘water cooler chats,’ have a team lunch together, or even have a virtual happy hour. Turn your daily check-in chats into video conferences so your recruiters can see some friendly faces.

Managers of remote teams might feel compelled to get right down to business every time you talk to your team, but take time to ask your recruiters how they’re doing and connect on a human level. And again, use video tools whenever possible. 

Ask for feedback and suggestions. 

Big challenges require creative thinking. Don’t take on the burden all by yourself. Tap into your team’s creative resources and let them help you break down the new challenges your organization is facing and brainstorm solutions that will help your team stay competitive. If your team is pivoting from in-person career fairs to online recruiting events for the first time or just ramping up your virtual career fairs, this is a perfect opportunity to work together as a team and design events that offer the candidate experience you want. 

Feedback from your team about their experience working remotely is also really valuable right now. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees, “How am I doing?” Invite them to evaluate your leadership during this time, and take their feedback to heart as you think about how to move forward for the remaining weeks or months that we’re forced to follow social distancing guidelines. You may specifically want to ask your team to comment on the frequency and types of communication you’re using, including the tools you’re using to communicate with so you can make any necessary adjustments to collaborate as painlessly as possible.

Are fully remote teams the future of work?

Now this global health crisis has forced teams around the world to pivot to working from home, many leaders are wondering how long this trend will last. You don’t need to make decisions now about whether your team will ever work in the same space again, but be prepared for team members to ask when the time comes. Some employees might find that they prefer working from home, and will want to negotiate more opportunities to do so even after social distancing restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to return to the office. If you’ve maintained a close and productive team throughout the crisis by following the strategies above, you’ll be in a better place to evaluate the question when that time comes.

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