How To Address Insubordination In Remote Employees

Since the pandemic started, many companies have let their employees work from home.

This made it hard for managers to decide whether an employee had engaged in insubordination when they did not do the same things they did at the office.

Insubordination Issues With Work-From-Home

When people work in an office, it’s easy to tell when someone is not following orders, and they can get in trouble for it.

But when people work from home, it’s harder for their boss to tell if they engaged in acts of insubordination.

Some awkward issues of working from home were:

  • Managers around the world are still confused about whether it’s okay for workers to wear casual clothes during video meetings.
  • On the employee side, would it be insubordination if it’s okay if a worker’s kids interrupt a meeting?
  • Furthermore, would it be bad discipline to pay someone else to do their task before submitting it, as it might compromise company secrets?

Remote teams can face unique challenges when it comes to identifying and managing insubordination. Without the usual cues of physical presence and direct communication, it can be hard to know when an employee has crossed the line into insubordination.

Additionally, the consequences may be more severe if the insubordinate behavior isn’t addressed quickly and properly.

how to address insubordination when working from home

How To Address Insubordination In Remote Employees

Let’s try to identify and address the unique challenges of managing insubordination in remote teams and how to keep remote teams on track and prevent insubordination from occurring.

Whether you’re a remote team leader, manager, or employee, you’ll learn the best practices for addressing and preventing insubordination in the remote environment.

1. Distinguishing between insubordination and creative dissent

Insubordination and creative dissent can be difficult to distinguish in remote teams, as it can be hard to gauge the intentions behind an employee’s behavior.

  • Insubordination is defined as a willful disregard of authority and should be treated as a serious violation.
  • Creative dissent, on the other hand, is a constructive means of expressing disagreement while still respecting the authority of the team leader.

The two can have drastically different implications for the team’s effectiveness.

To effectively manage both situations, it is critical for team leaders to remain impartial and communicate clearly with their teams.

2. Establishing and communicating expectations

Establishing and communicating expectations is a key part of managing any team, and it’s especially important for teams that work remotely.

Remote teams need to fully understand what is expected of them, and that understanding needs to be communicated clearly and unequivocal.

This will help minimize misunderstandings and miscommunication, and ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page when it comes to what needs to be done.

To ensure that everyone is on the same page, the team should set and discuss expectations as part of a discussion about the team’s goals and individual roles and responsibilities.

They should also clearly outline the expectations and review them at intervals to ensure that every member is aware of their duties and responsibilities.

3. Establishing clear processes to deal with insubordination

Establishing clear processes to deal with insubordination is essential to maintain order and respect in your remote team.

Make sure your team understands the consequences of failing to follow the agreed-upon processes.

If necessary, consult a legal or ethical team, and email everyone a copy of the corporate policy book on insubordination in remote teams.

Make sure to maintain a record of all instances of insubordination, including what, who, when, and where, as well as any steps that were taken in response.

Finally, consider setting up a formal review process for all instances of insubordination.

This will ensure that everyone is aware of the expectations and consequences of insubordination and that it can be managed effectively.

4. Utilizing the power of positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective technique to deal with insubordination in remote teams.

Remote teams are more disconnected from the traditional corporate structure, and positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool to encourage and motivate employees.

You can, for example, offer extra vacation days, financial bonuses, or recognition for good performance.

Giving positive feedback and recognizing accomplishments can foster a culture of accountability and help remote employees to stay on track.

It’s important that these rewards and recognition are given out evenly and fairly, and that team members are held to the same standards of behavior and expectations.

5. Leveraging technology to facilitate better communication

To prevent the issue of insubordination in remote teams, use technology to facilitate better communication.

This could include using tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and even virtual whiteboards to help team members connect and stay in sync.

Providing team members with access to project management tools and task-tracking systems can help them stay organized and on task.

By leveraging technology, remote teams can better communicate, stay organized, and avoid insubordination.

However, make sure to not demean anyone publicly or castigate them before the other members of the team. First, sort it out with them at a personal level—pick up the phone and talk to them.

Final Words

Dealing with people in a remote team who are insubordinate needs a multi-faceted approach.

Managers and bosses need to make sure everyone knows what they should be doing, talk to their team often, provide constructive feedback, and make sure everyone works well together.

Leaders must be proactive in creating an environment wherein remote team members feel respected and valued. By doing this, remote teams will do better and everyone will feel respected.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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