Merge's Blog

Long-distance leadership strategy #7: don’t forget to praise!

Six weeks ago, I started a video series on specific strategies to lead virtual teams.  Long-distance leadership can be a challenge; because of physical distance, it takes more effort for a leader to build and maintain high performance in employees. Given the positive response I’ve received, I’m going to keep this series going for a while.  Last week’s tip was to set standards for response times for emails and voice mail.  Today’s strategy to improve your long-distance leadership is: don’t forget to praise your staff regularly.

Don’t forget to praise

Now sure, this strategy – praising employees – is no different than what you would do for your employees who are based in the office, but it’s even more important for your virtual staff.  Why?  Because when it comes to offering praise and feedback, off-site employees are usually the forgotten ones.  See, most leaders offer feedback and praise in a very informal way: usually it comes to mind when you see the employee in the office – at the water cooler, or at the photocopier.  When you see the employee, you remember to thank them for staying late to solve a problem, or to congratulate them on a great presentation to the senior management team.  But when it comes to long-distance leadership, you don’t usually have the opportunity to bump into remote workers, so they don’t always come to mind.  And despite your best intentions, praising your virtual staff slips drops into the recesses of your mind, and never happens!

So when it comes to long-distance leadership, in order to make sure that your virtual team members receive praise and positive feedback, you have to put in extra effort.  The extra effort doesn’t have to be anything fancy — a brief voice mail or e-mail works wonders.  But you have to deliberately and thoughtfully make it a point to do it, because this is one thing that in the daily hustle and bustle, easily slips through the cracks and is missed.  To your and your team’s detriment.  When I address long-distance leadership with my clients, I actually suggest that they put this on their to-do list as a weekly recurring item.  Make it a habit to send a couple of emails every Friday afternoon to one or two of your staff about something that happened during the week that warrants praise.

So what do you do to make sure that you don’t forget to give praise and positive feedback to your off-site employees?  What reminders or memory tricks do you use?  Please share by commenting below.

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