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Tag Archives: off-site employees

Long-distance leadership? Insist that complaints be accompanied by recommended solutions

RemoteEmployeesEarlier this week, I started up a dialogue about how to facilitate working relationships when you have staff who work remotely and at a distance from their home office colleagues, and my first suggestion was to set expectations for work hours and communication standards. Here is a second idea to make long-distance leadership work more effectively: insist that complaints about problems must be accompanied by recommended solutions.

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, when employees are remote, it becomes very easy for them to blame the “home office” for anything that goes wrong. Common refrains – “Oh the folks in the home office simply don’t understand what we do in the field” or “Great, here’s another stupid rule from the head office”. I suspect that if you have “virtual” staff, then you know exactly what I’m talking about! Continue reading

Long-distance leadership? Set expectations for work hours and communication standards

Businessman working in the drivers seat in his carIf you’re a manager who has staff that are located remotely, then you know that long-distance leadership has a whole different degree of complexity when it comes to communication and employee motivation. In the past, I’ve offered ideas to facilitate this kind of “virtual” leadership such as setting office hours, planning on at least one informal phone call a week, and obtaining written monthly progress reports, but it’s been a while since I’ve addressed this topic. The subject came up again with a client group recently, so I thought that I’d offer up two more ideas in this week’s blog posts. Here’s the first: set expectations, up front, about work hours, and standards for checking and responding to voice mail and e-mail.

One of the frequent complaints of employees who work on-site in the organization’s home office is that they can’t reach their off-site colleagues when they need to. Continue reading

Leadership from afar – 4 keys to making it work

BCHRMA_logoThe reality is that remote workers are becoming the norm. Whether it’s people working at home for one day a month, a week, or even full time, or staff who are geographically remote from the bosses, or even salespeople who operate mainly out of their vehicles, virtual leadership is a fundamental necessity in today’s world of business. Employees feel left out and managers and supervisors find communication more of a challenge. But long-distance leadership IS possible … Continue reading

Long-distance leadership? Obtain written progress reports

By far, the biggest challenge in working with off-site employees is that communication becomes harder.  In previous columns, I’ve suggested that setting office hours and planning on at least one informal phone call a week can be very effective in overcoming the problem of “physical distance”.  Here’s another idea.

Obtain written monthly progress reports at least once a month.  Have your employee put in writing two things – the accomplishments of the past month and an update on new and outstanding issues.  This doesn’t have to be anything formal nor lengthy; in fact an e-mail note or one-page Word document will do.  This written report serves two very crucial purposes.  First, it forces the employee to acknowledge what has gone well over the past month and perhaps more importantly, it gives you an opportunity to acknowledge the work, something that often slips out of sight when working with remote employees.  Second, it keeps you aware of what your employee is working on, and more significantly, where you can step in to help support his or her efforts.  This written report will help you do two things – (1) offer praise and encouragement and (2) lend assistance where needed; both very critical functions of leadership.

If you’re in a “remote” working relationship, what else works (or doesn’t)?  What are you doing to overcome the challenges of long-distance leadership?  Do tell.

Long-distance leadership? Plan on at least one informal phone call a week

Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing in face-to-face situations can sometimes be challenging enough, but what if you have employees who are “remote”?  If you have physical distance between you and your employees – such as staff who work in different office buildings, or work from home offices, or spend most of their time in their vehicles – then the challenges of communication multiply and compound.  Plus, remote or virtual employees often complain that they feel isolated from their bosses and the rest of the organization.

There are several things that you can do to overcome this physical distance problem, and I told you about “setting office hours” in a blog post earlier this year.  Here’s another idea.  Make it a point to informally talk (on the phone) to each of your virtual employees at least once a week.  Because this is supposed to be informal, I don’t recommend that you schedule a specific time with them.  But … there’s nothing to stop you from scheduling it into YOUR calendar so that you don’t forget.  This call is just to keep a connection.  Find out what’s going on, what are they working on, whether they need support, you get the idea.  It doesn’t need to be long, but doing this one simple activity will go a long way towards reducing the feeling of isolation that so many remote employees complain about.

For those of you who have long-distance employee relationships (or if you ARE the “remote employee”), what else works to provide enhanced support and feedback?

Long-distance leadership? Make it easier with office hours

Effective communication, motivating exceptional performance, resolving conflicts in a positive and productive way – these are all important parts of leadership, and if you’re a manager or supervisor, you know that each comes with its own set of challenges.  But what if you also have the added complexity called “remote employees”?  Does anything change if your staff are in a different office building across town?  What if your people work from home offices or out of their vehicles while on the road?  What about if they operate in a different time zone?  Suddenly, the challenges multiply and compound.  Because of the physical distance between you and your people, they will feel increasingly isolated UNLESS you take steps to provide a greater degree of support and feedback to them.

There are several things you can do to overcome this physical distance problem, but here’s an easy one.  Set office hours.  Remember when you went to university or college and your professors would set office hours – specific times during the week when you would be guaranteed to find the professor in his/her office and available to talk to you.  Same idea.  Set office hours – specific times during the week when your employees know they can call and that they will get you “live” in your office.  Even if the phone switches over to voice mail, they’ll know it’s because you’re talking to another employee, and so they can count on you calling them back fairly soon.  Block this off on your schedule so that no one else schedules meetings during this time, and treat this blocked time like gold.  This simple step of setting office hours can make you significantly more accessible to your off-site employees and make huge inroads toward decreasing their feelings of isolation.  Heck, this is a good leadership practice even if  you don’t have off-site employees; it works just as well with on-site employees!

For those of you who have long-distance employee relationships (or if you ARE the “remote employee”), what else works to provide enhanced support and feedback?