Merge's Blog

Build stronger relationships with your remote employees by learning more about them personally

For the last two weeks, I’ve been posting about strategies to work more effectively with your remote employees.  The ideas so far: set office hours and schedule weekly one-on-ones.  Today’s tip sounds fairly simple, but don’t let the simplicity lead you to think it’s ineffective.  In fact, just the opposite.

Get to know your remote employees at a personal level

Learn more about your remote employees.  Make it a point to get to know your team members at a personal level, more than just in terms of the work they do.  Learn more about their family, their hobbies, where they are from, where they want to go.  Now this should happen with all your employees, but it’s particularly double-down important for your remote employees. Because when you get to know your people at a personal level, you build relationships, and it’s these relationships that will matter when you-know-what hits the fan.

When you develop deeper relationships with your employees, it is what will help you work through problems that each team member has, allow them to trust that they can come to you with important issues, and give you the benefit of the doubt when you make a mistake or an unpopular decision.  But it’s harder to develop this depth of relationship with people you only see occasionally, which is exactly why you have to deliberately work on it with your virtual teams.

So engage in small talk when you’re on the phone with them.  Ask them about their weekends and their family members.  Sure, it’s much more efficient to just talk about what needs to get done and jump off your call, end your chat, and get back to executing.  And sure, there are times when that is completely appropriate.  But if that’s all you do, you’re really missing out on a critical part of leadership.  Demonstrating you care is important to your remote employees and essential for you to truly understand their motivations. Extra bonus: taking the time to do this will also make them like working for you more.

This is strategy #3 and there are more coming.  But I always love to hear from you.  If you have remote employees on your team, what are you doing to make sure that you are building positive relationships and maximizing productivity?  Please share by commenting below.

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