Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

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.


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