This is a guest post by Tom Borg. He regularly writes for Entrepreneur Magazine, focusing on business tactics and talent development. We're excited to share his expert insight with you.
Research I read more than a decade ago about Delta Airlines showed that among the many things that people want to know about the individuals in the business who serve them, four items consistently remain at the top of the list.
Customers want to know the answers to the following four questions:
- Do you like me?
- Do you care about me?
- Can I trust you?
- Do you know what you are talking about?
If you look a little closer at these questions you will see that these are basic human needs of most people. Whether they are your external customers or your internal customers they resonate with both types.
Since this article is about your internal customers – your remote workers, let’s examine more closely how they apply. The first question that must be answered for your remote workers is:
Do you like me?
How can this be demonstrated to people you do not have in your physical presence? One of the ways we can show them we like them is to use their name. Dale Carnegie, one of the original self help gurus put it this way, “A person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest most important sound in any language.”
Researchers have proven that when a person hears his or her name, an actual chemical reaction takes place within that person’s brain. When used in the right way, people respond favorably to the person using their name. When it comes to pronouncing names with which you may be unfamiliar, taking the time to learn how to say them will be well worth it.
From time to time, in the training programs I have conducted, I would meet someone from a different country other than the United States. Sometimes they have adopted an “American” name to make it easier for others to pronounce and remember. Upon probing a bit I usually discover that the individual really prefers using their own original name. At that point I would take the time to learn how to pronounce it. You can see the light in their eyes when said properly.
Depending on your particular situation, using the person’s original name throughout the communication can go a long way in building trust and rapport with your remote workers.
Just being happy to talk with one of your remote workers through Skype or a telephone conversation can come through in the tone of your voice, and can go a long way in demonstrating that you sincerely like the individual with whom you are communicating.
So, to build trust and rapport with your remote workers, when you communicate with them verbally, use their name and make sure you communicate sincere empathy for them with your voice.
The next concept we can learn from this study is to answer the question, “Do you care about me?
How can you express genuine care for your remote employees. Again your tone of voice plays an important part here. Think of your voice as you would a musical instrument. When a musical instrument is played you can hear the notes of the melody going up and down the scale. By using inflection, pitch, speed and tone you can do similar things with your voice. In other words, you express emotion by using inflection, pitch, speed and tone with your voice. By doing so in the correct way, you can express that you really care about your remote representative.
Another way to show that you really care about the people who work in a distant location is by remembering their significant events. Dates like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the like, when remembered, can bridge the care gap that tends to widen without continual evidence that you value this person for the human being they are.
Still another way to express your concern for the people that work for you offsite is to take the time to get to know them. Ask them about their family, their hobbies their goals and dreams.
The third question you need to answer is, “Can I trust you?”
One way this is demonstrated to your remote workers is making sure you follow through with your promises. When you promise to check back with them on a certain issue by a specific time, and do so, this builds trust.
Another area where you can build trust is when you make an error or a mistake. To pretend it never happened or to overlook it when it is obvious you are at fault, will lower trust, admit it quickly and emphatically. When you openly admit to an error on your part, as opposed to trying to blame some circumstance or someone else, this builds trust.
When one of your remote workers makes an error, don’t point it out for everyone to see and know about. Let them save face. When you need to correct an employee, do so privately in a voice to voice or face to face conversation. This strategy is just good common sense. Use it to build trust and loyalty.
Take the time to get to know this person by talking with them about things that are important to them, like their family, their job or their hobbies. This can also build trust and rapport.
Take the time to become familiar with their culture and any nuances that can be misinterpreted between your culture and theirs? If your remote worker is from a different culture and English is not their native language, it helps to learn a few words and phrases like please and thank you, good morning or good afternoon and other phrases that can build a positive, trusting relationship.
Finally the last question to answer for our remote employees is, “Do you know what you are doing?”
In other words, do you demonstrate your competence in the work you perform in your position?
Are you able to show that you have handled work related problems in the past and continue to resolve issues that come up on a regular basis. Are you able to be open minded to hearing both sides of any disagreements or disputes?
When you can effectively demonstrate that you can answer these questions for your remote workers, you will be well on your way to a powerfully productive and successful remote operation.
Tom Borg is a business expert who works with small and mid-size companies to profitably increase customer acquisition and retention through improved employee performance. He can be reached at 734-404-5909, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.tomborgconsulting.com
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