Remote Teams: Managing Attitudes, Not Activity

By Drew Gurley

Managing remote teams is tricky. If attitude is the icing, function is the cake. In this article, Drew Gurley discusses why we should manage attitudes within remote teams and not their activities.


In its most simple form, managing a team has two components: functional and attitudinal.

Managing the functional components of a team is simple: It is smart people following good process to meet clear goals. There are work plans, status meetings, face time with team members, ongoing critiques and so on. I’m not saying this is easy, but results are pretty predictable if you follow this approach.

Managing the attitudes of team members is an entirely different challenge. It’s the difference between share of mind and share of heart. You have their bodies but have you captured their commitment? Are they enthusiastic? Does their enthusiasm rub off on others? I believe that attitudes are the classic 80-20… attitudes influence 20 percent of the effort and 80 percent of the outcome.

Not all teams are created equal. Teams in the same location have a great advantage; the team leader can both see and feel how the team is performing and often take action on issues much faster. But, what if team members are in different locations? What if the entire team is remote and all members are in different locations? And, what if those team members don’t even work for you?

That’s the situation for my company. I am co-founder of an independent life, health and retirement agency in the United States. We have more than 600 agents in 25 states and the vast majority are independent business owners who represent insurance products from many companies including some from my company, Redbird Advisors. It is my job to make sure they sell something represented by Redbird.

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