What have you done to become a more confident remote manager lately? If you couldn't find time to develop your skills, don't worry - you can start learning and improving today.
And with working conditions changing so much during lockdown, remote management courses may just be the perfect place to start. That's why we've put together a list of five courses that will help you grow as a remote leader.
Remote is here to stay.
Even when the pandemic ends, many people will continue working remotely. A 2020 Gartner survey revealed 82% of managers plan to allow employees to work from home. It was also a growing trend even before the pandemic hit.
As many of us have learned during the pandemic, remote team management is quite different from working in an office. If you can't adapt as a leader, you'll struggle to bring out the best in your team under these new circumstances.
Each of our picks includes pros and cons to help you understand how they stack up against one another. And yes, our very own Lighthouse Lessons are part of the selection. However, we try to be fair and help you understand each course's strengths, so you pick the one that fits your schedule and preferences.
You should always strive to learn from as many sources as possible. With that in mind, mix and match these resources according to your needs, as that's how you stand to gain the most value from them.
With that being said, let's get right into the picks.
5 Remote Management Courses to Help you Be a Better Manager
1) Udemy - How to Manage & Influence Your Virtual Team
TL;DR: Experienced instructor, actionable insights, thorough research, but with video of someone reading a lot of slides.
There are a lot of good remote management courses to choose from on Udemy. One of them stands out thanks to an overwhelming number of positive reviews. Hassan Osman's How to Manage & Influence Your Virtual Team contains a wealth of practical content. Osman has been leading remote teams at Cisco for over 10 years and also worked at Ernst&Young.
He was also a research assistant at Harvard, focusing on common trends and issues related to virtual teams. Not surprisingly then, Osman's course is based on extensive research. It includes studies from the Harvard Business School, Kelley School of Business, McKinsey Global Institute, and others.
More importantly, the advice included in the lessons can easily be applied to real-life situations. On top of that, completing the course will even get you some NASBA CPE credits. Not a bad deal for three hours worth of content.
The biggest issue I have with Udemy is their pushy limited-time offers. At the time of writing, the course is available for $12.99, but the price goes up to $129.99 in five hours. If the real price is $12.99, what are you really getting? It's hard to trust the quality at that price.
Most importantly, your time spent watching the videos is worth a lot more than that. Three hours of your time is a significant investment, and while the course definitely has some strong points, there are some complaints about Osman just reading content from a slide. This is not very engaging and defeats the purpose of having an instructor.
2) Pluralsight - Managing Remote Teams
TL;DR: Engaging and easy to follow. A lot of thought has been put into storytelling and structure, but the instructor lacks qualifications.
This course offers shorter, neatly organized units that will keep viewers engaged. The animations are a nice touch, and they complement the content beautifully. The instructor's style of narrating is also a highlight. His casual tone and personal stories make every lesson feel relatable.
You'll receive suggestions on what tools to use, how to handle team communication, and how to lead people by example. The instructor covers the most essential remote management skills.
This course provides a pretty high-level overview, but it's still worth your time, especially considering you can view the course for free. Pluralsight has really upped their game in visual and audio presentation. This an area where their course stands out relative to others on this list; the great storytelling and design will keep you interested throughout.
I found the instructor's experience lacking compared to the other courses on this list. After doing a quick search on LinkedIn, I didn't find any familiar companies, and since his experience is related to agency work, it may not all apply to your work situation.
This doesn't have to be a deal-breaker, but there was also no mention of any research to back up his ideas. This is probably part of the reason that the course is only an hour and a half long.
Overall, the course felt more like a collection of thoughts and ideas than a coherent, structured program. Every unit made sense, but there were no action items you could apply to real life.
This Pluralsight guide is a great introduction to the concept of remote management. I don't think it offers a great deal of practical advice, though. Still, I would recommend watching it given it's 100% free.
3) Hubspot - How to Manage a Remote Team
TL;DR: A free course that covers the remote management basics. A great starting place for inexperienced managers, but you have to create a HubSpot account to view it, opening you up to their aggressive marketing.
This course does a great job of describing the biggest pain points of remote managers. It then gives suggestions on how to address them. The instructors are experienced and the content is engaging. I also like that they have a section dedicated to maintaining a healthy remote company culture.
Best of all, upon completion, you'll receive a detailed remote leadership cheat sheet with some DOs and DON'Ts.
The Hubspot course is a good place to start if you've never had any experience leading remotely.
This course is very short at only 40 minutes long. Not surprisingly, that means it covers only the most basic concepts of remote management.
Believe it or not, Zoom is the only digital tool for remote management mentioned in the entire guide. The quiz at the end contains three basic questions that don't add any value to your learning experience.
They also provide a 1 on 1 meeting template, which is a nice touch, but the spreadsheet format is not very practical. If you want to have regular 1 on 1's remotely, keeping track of spreadsheets becomes time consuming and annoying as you can't have any reminders, variability in what you share with your team, etc.
That's why Lighthouse was built to make all kinds of management easier than such spreadsheets. To see how it works, click here to start your free 21-day trial.
Back to Hubspot's course - this is a solid foundation that comes with a couple of neat resources. The course is available for free, but only after creating an account. I found this kind of annoying and unnecessary. HubSpot is a company that builds marketing and sales software, so keep in mind you'll likely get quite a bit of marketing messaging after taking it.
4) Coursera/GitLab - How to Manage a Remote Team
TL;DR: This is a great option if you like video courses...and you've got 11 hours to spare.
One word: experience. The two instructors offer plenty of knowledge when it comes to remote work. Darren Murph was hailed as "the oracle of remote work” by CNBC and is GitLab's Head of Remote. He also holds a Guinness World Record as the planet's most prolific professional blogger (I'm not even joking), so you know he's honed his communication skills.
Meanwhile, Jessica Reeder has led remote teams on projects such as Burning Man and also works at Gitlab, with expertise as a remote communications expert. The pair combine for lots of hands on, relevant expertise.
You can enroll in the course for free, but must pay $59 for an official certificate from Coursera. Deadlines are flexible and can be reset based on your schedule.
There are also subtitles for 12 different languages, so if English is not your first language, this could be helpful for you.
This program will help you gauge your company's remote organizational readiness and adapt based on it. The final assignment requires you to create your own remote transition plan. This is awesome because you're putting theory into practice as part of the learning process.
Kudos to GitLab for putting together 11 hours worth of quality content for their course. It's just...I don't really know a lot of managers who have that much availability during the week.
The duration of the lessons can vary, but the average is around 30 minutes. The course lasts five weeks, and you're required to pass a 30-minute test at the end of each one. The only exception is Week 5, where there's a final assignment that takes about an hour to complete. There's also some complaints about some of the videos being a bit boring ("people reading slides”) and redundant.
With this in mind, you could say this one is a bit of a slow burner. If you're looking for immediate impact, other options on this list are a better fit.
GitLab's content is also not meant for managers with less than a year's worth of experience. Even though this is the most comprehensive guide on the list by far, it's not a very good starting point for newcomers. If you're a somewhat experienced remote leader, you can use it to add to your knowledge.
5) Lighthouse Lessons: Remote Management for the Long Haul
TL;DR: Weekly, bite-sized lessons with super actionable insights. The group edition is great for building bonds and helping your managers support each other, but it's self-directed.
The newest Lighthouse Lessons program focuses on bringing out the best in your remote team. As always, the focus is on highly actionable advice.
The lessons are formatted as weekly emailed insights you can review at your own pace; it even provides a bonus lesson to help you build the habit of completing the lessons.
In total, there are ten remote lessons (plus the bonus lesson), and each one includes concrete suggestions on how to act on that week's topic.
Managers of all experience levels can benefit from this course. The lesson content was created using feedback from thousands of managers. We also apply insights from companies such as Gartner and Gallup, relevant studies, and books on leadership. The topics include:
- Mastering asynchronous communication
- Building connections and camaraderie remotely
- Having difficult conversations at a distance, and others.
We also know how precious your time as a manager is. That's why each lesson can help you grow as a leader in just 15 minutes a week. We've included templates to help you apply the knowledge from the course to your team.
While anyone can do the solo edition on their own, the real highlight is the group edition. It's an awesome way to improve company culture and adapt to the challenges of remote work quickly by getting all your managers together to talk about the lessons, and share challenges while supporting one another.
Not everyone prefers reading over the more traditional video format or live courses that you'll see offered elsewhere. There are no instructors to talk you through the lessons (though you can reply to any lesson for help or clarification).
The flexibility of the program is great for busy managers, but people who prefer more hands on structure and guidance, may prefer a live course. There's also no quiz or exam to test your knowledge at the end. It's up to you to apply these insights to your team how you see fit.
The course will help you take action that will have an impact on you and your team, but you need to provide some of your own structure and motivation, because it's not meant to hand-hold you.
There's a lot of great remote management courses to choose from these days. Stick with one of the big players such as Udemy or Coursera and you're sure to learn the basics well.
At the same time, most of these kinds of courses do a great job of explaining important concepts, but lack actionable insights.
And ultimately, the goal is to take action, right?
Remember what matters.
Have you ever heard of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting curve? It's a 19th-century concept in psychology that describes how your memory works.
Essentially, our brains are wired to remember things better if we can apply them immediately. If we don't apply what we've learned quickly, we tend to forget almost all of it. By day 7, up to 98% of information can disappear from our minds.
That's why Lighthouse Lessons focues on specific action items to help you improve. We want to ensure you can use our insights in real life as soon as you complete the lesson.
The bite-size lesson format is also there to help you even if your schedule is extremely busy. The truth is, no amount of content will make you a great remote leader if you don't take action to apply it to your team, and having something the right size will make it easier for you to stay committed.
And unfortunately, understanding a concept and actually applying it to your team are two different things; this is why it's good to study concepts then work to apply them in real life to understand their nuance in the real world.
Sure, you could do the heavy lifting yourself, but who wants to do that after watching hours and hours of videos? If that's your style, great, but for the rest of us, a shortcut is very welcome. This in a nutshell is our inspiration for Lighthouse Lessons to be different than your average video courseware.
And if you're interested in more remote management resources, check out these posts which show you the caliber of research, best practices, and content you can expect from a Lighthouse program:
- 3 Crucial Keys to Helping Your Team Transition to Remote Work Effectively
- 31 Questions to Ask Remote Employees to Better Support Them
- 13 Things You Didn't Plan for When You Started Hiring Remote Employees
- 5 Things You Didn't Expect When Managing Remote Teams in COVID (and what to do about it)
- How to Work Remotely Like a Pro: Advice from a Veteran
- How to Do Layoffs Right: the step-by-step approach, even if you're doing them remotely
If you have any questions about Lighthouse Lessons, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. You can also check out the program FAQ page.