A Tech Leader’s Top 4 Tips for Inspiring Remote Teams

Sponsored by Fannie Mae

A woman working from home.

Photo courtesy of Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae

We recently had a conversation with Sravanthi Davuluri, Director of Technology at Fannie Mae, a mission-based financial services company where the majority of the workforce currently works remotely. She was delighted to share some of her experience and advice about managing teams working remotely and how to keep people happy, productive, and excited to log into work every day. Here are some of her four favorite tips.

1. Keep everyone in the loop so they feel connected to the work.

Being an awesome remote leader requires the same people-first focus you need on-site — just with a digital twist. 

Keep your team members apprised of any changes in priorities and help them understand the big-picture context of the work they are doing. “To help teams better understand how their work ties to the mission, I start with the why before the how,” Sravanthi says. “It’s important for folks to understand how their work connects to the end goal.”

Stay committed to keeping your teams informed and letting your people know they are valued. Meet with your teams regularly and be available to answer questions — they’ll thank you with productivity and enthusiasm.

2. Set up regular times for each team to get together virtually. 

Remote work requires diligence and effort for managers to create and maintain a personal rapport with team members. Here’s what Sravanthi has found to work well: 

“My teams have lots of agile processes — regular team huddles, easily accessed sessions for problem-solving, and virtual office hours where folks can just drop in and talk,” Sravanthi shares. “It’s important that people hear your voice and know you’re on top of anything they may need your help with at work.”

3. Practice empathy and flexibility — they go a long way.

We all know that flexibility and work-life balance are hot topics for leaders of teams working remotely. But how about some practical management advice?

Sravanthi suggests taking a personal and flexible approach with each employee and tailoring schedules around their family and other obligations whenever possible. “Some people like to work different hours; there are so many flexible options to meet individual preferences.”

Her commitment to flexibility stems from personal experiences with her own managers’ understanding approach over the years. “From day one, work-life balance has been a reason I’ve stayed here. Fannie Mae is a very empathy-based organization with a real respect that everybody has a life.”

4. Be proactive about providing opportunities to advance their careers.

“My goal is to motivate and empower my teams,” Sravanthi says. “I look to remove blockers to their work and guide them in pursuing their interests. We have a growth plan for success for every team member. They get to say, ‘These are my skills — here’s where I want to go.’ It’s all about education, experience, and exposure. We have one-on-ones, and people are very comfortable talking about their goals.”

A manager’s number-one job is nurturing and developing the careers of their team members.  This is especially important to prioritize in a virtual environment. Sravanthi makes sure team members get visibility in the work they are doing. And that they are included in situations where they can observe people with higher levels of experience model behaviors and skills that will help them succeed as well.

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