Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for March, 2013

A few tips for managing remotely.

Managers often share with me that it’s tough to maintain the same relationship with remote employees that they have with local employees. When asked for recommendations, I offer one piece of advice, which may affect a number of management behaviors and/or strategies: Think about what best engages and supports local staff and use the same approaches to build relationships with remote staff.

Here are a few tips that may help:
– Have regular one-on-ones and be sure to make every effort to keep the telephone meetings scheduled, and to establish meeting objectives.
– When you first connect on the phone, ask questions and focus on listening and learning what you can about the person’s current focus, and state of mind. Even when you have news or directives, ask questions first. For example, you might ask someone to share one significant success and one significant challenge they’re currently experiencing. Your ability to probe for where an employee is coming from—and how they see their successes and/or challenges—will help you help them.
– If you’re managing a team, establish regular “staff meetings” or conference calls, providing the same opportunities that are provided in a physical meeting. Keep yourself aware of who is and isn’t contributing, and ask those individuals who may not be active on the call if they have any additional input, or would like to share anything from their experience. This approach not only engages everyone, it demonstrates that you value each individual’s participation.
– Remember coaching your staff is crucial. Coaching can easily be done by phone, whether you establish a specific coaching schedule, or you’re coaching on demand, helping an individual or team through a challenge.
– Set a standard for accountability. Your request for specific deliverables and target dates, and your prompt follow up when deliverables are delayed will set the stage for future accountability.
– Always leave your call or virtual meeting with a genuine offer of accessibility if an employee and/or team is looking for guidance and/or support.

Whether they work in the next office, or across the country or globe, employees appreciate engaging, genuine, purposeful, consistent, and supportive leaders.

Seriously need some down time? Take care of yourself and act now.

I’m on vacation in Arizona this week, visiting with two of my life-long girlfriends. For those of you who are female readers….You can’t beat a girlfriends’ trip, right? Anyway, I’m in the mood to write and I owe you a blog entry during my absence, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

I am very grateful for my life and my work, but it really feels good to let go of deadlines, responsibilities, and eldercare, even if only for a short while. It even feels good to let go of the good stuff for a while and move through my day responding only to my own needs and desires in the moment. My friends and I allow each other this level of freedom and support during our time together and it’s the best. For a number of reasons it may not have been the ideal time to take this trip but I knew it was important to my well-being to take a break and I knew the rejuvenation would allow me to give more of my best to my family, friends, colleagues and clients.

Whether you want and are able to travel or you simply want an at-home retreat for a few days, the trick to actually taking that trip or time off is to take some kind of action towards a commitment to do it….now. Could you take a look ahead and see when you might feasibly be able to take time off so that you can choose some dates? Can you begin exploring flights or travel accommodations and begin gathering notes about them? At the very least, if you’re not finding the time, can you commit to one vacation day to explore further the possibility of taking some future time off? If you wait until you “have the time” or “things calm down”, stretches of time will continue to pass quickly without your experiencing that trip or respite. Even if the time available to you is well into the future, booking specific dates and preparing others for your absence will have you enjoying a trip or a much needed rest long before no action will, unless you’re someone who is highly spontaneous.

For me, another great thing about taking time off, whether away or at home, is returning home, or re-entering into familiar work or life rituals with a bit of a different perspective. Missing my husband and family and feeling good about returning to them goes without saying, but I’m surprised about how often I’ll miss the little things too—like a favorite blanket or some small evening ritual. And it’s especially nice how much more I appreciate them when I return.

So if you’re in need of some down time or you seriously want that vacation, today’s the day to take care of yourself and take action!