Merge's Blog

If you are leading from afar, this one strategy will make a huge difference!

Today’s blog video is #10 in our ongoing series on specific strategies for leading from afar.  Today’s tip is to have weekly structured one-on-one meetings with your staff.

Have weekly structured one-on-one meetings with your staff

Now, if you’re thinking it is a good leadership practice to have weekly structured one-on-one meetings with ALL your staff, whether they’re located in the office, or working out of their homes, you’re correct.  It is.  But it’s even MORE important if your staff are physically remote and you are leading from afar.

Cover six key items

This structured one-on-one meeting should contain six agenda items.

  1. Start by asking your employee to share one positive highlight or accomplishment since the last meeting. Starting with a highlight sets the tone for the rest of the meeting, and serves as a huge morale booster for your employee who is working from home.
  2. Second, recap your progress on the action items from the last meeting. More on this coming up in step 6.
  3. This will naturally lead into number three – a discussion of current problems and issues. Your objective is to get your staff member to keep you in the loop, and to offer input and advice as needed.  This usually takes up the bulk of the meeting time.  But be sure you leave enough time for the remaining steps.
  4. Fourth is to ask your employee about any issues or commitments that are looming on the horizon. What is coming up that either needs to be addressed or even more importantly, could pose a potential problem?  Again, this puts you in the loop and allows you to proactively head off any issues.
  5. Number five, initiate a dialogue that probes to find out what areas your employee needs help in. This could include access to additional resources, or an extension of a deadline, or stepping in to facilitate a tricky situation.  Often, staff members are reluctant to share this information because they erroneously believe that it signals their inability or exposes their shortcomings.  So show them that you are there to help, not judge.
  6. Finally, close out your conversation by summarizing the action items that came up during your meeting, both in terms of what your staff member has committed to doing, and what you have promised to follow up on. This list then becomes item number two for next week’s conversation.

An unexpected bonus

One of the unexpected bonuses of this strategy is that because your staff know that they have a scheduled one-on-one time with you each week, they tend to book fewer impromptu meetings with you, since they know they will have a chance to talk to you fairly soon.

Leading from afar can be challenging, both for you and your employees.  Which is why this strategy – holding weekly structured one-on-one conversations with each of your employees – may in fact be the most effective tool you have at your disposal when it comes to virtual leadership.

So I’m curious?  Are you already doing this?  If so, how is it working for you?  If not, tell us why?  Please add your comments below.

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