At the beginning of February I began a new job as full team manager (a role with aspects of project management, team management, technical leader, client management, etc.) in a new company (EU based, with 200-220 employees). It’s the first time for me in this role (previously I was a team leader/senior developer). Now I am the manager of a team of about 20 people. The team consists of 3 sub-teams and communications usually take place via mailing lists or group chats.
My company apply flexible working hours at an extreme extent: our contract says that everyone must work for 40 hours per week and the company has no interest on how and when an employee does his/her hours. The contract also says that nobody can be forced to be in the office in any particular time, even if there is a meeting with a customer (this last part is not very important for my team because the customer is in a different city and last time someone of my company met in person someone from the customer was more than 2 years ago). For example an employee could work 4 hours from 2am to 6am from home, then come at the office 2 hours in the morning, then go home and finally work from home in the late evening for 2 hours. Or an employee could work a total of 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday and do nothing for 3 random days.
This way of work caused me a weird situation. Of the 20 people I manage:
- 3 I’ve never met or directly interact with (including 1 that is a team leader that is supposed to report directly to me)
- 4 or 5 I’ve never met and I’ve interact with only via e-mail or chat
- A dozen more or less I’ve met a few times
- 3 or 4 I met regularly (not every day and/or for the entire day)
Deadlines are always met and the customer is very happy but I feel I don’t know who works for me, who works on which feature/bug/task and which are the roles and expertise of the member of the team. Practically I send mail to groups, call customer for new specifications and organize demos: I see work done but I don’t feel part of it.
How can I improve this situation and feel part of the team? How can I increase my knowledge on team members and their abilities and improve my knowledge on the project itself?