Trust is a one of the most critical factors when managing employees. How do we trust that they are spending their time productively? Focusing on the appropriate things? Completing work and tasks in the correct manner? To build your trust in them, you need to extend trust to them.
Often with remote teams, management fears that employees are not working as needed, when they are working remotely. This can lead to a micromanagement style by trying to manage every little task they are completing. However, this creates the opposite effect that management desires. It drives employees to take less responsibility for their tasks and work, which in turn creates more micro-management. In turn, management doesn’t trust the employee and the employee doesn’t trust management.
A better approach is to trust the employee to do the job, and not manage each and every task. Instead, manage to the end result or goal. To help the employee stay on track, set clear expectations as well as a method for them to report their progress. Provide a process and schedule for them to report through, so that they have a proactive method for communicating, rather than you having to continually initiate it. It could be a weekly spreadsheet that is emailed every Friday morning, or a list that is updated in a SharePoint site, with their latest accomplishments. By putting this into their hands, rather than a one off follow up driven by you, it extends trust and responsibility to them.
If you put the trust in them to manage their own tasks, they are more apt to live up to it, and it will entail less micromanagement on your part. When you extent trust to them, it will also increase their trust in you as their manager, and in your decisions, processes, and leadership. It is a reciprocal effect that will generate that much more productivity and quality work.