This is a guest post by Joe Wollenwebber. Joe is an Emyth certified business coach who works with many offshore clients. We're happy to gain his insights, so we're excited about sharing them with you.
Good management is good management whether you’re working with teams that sit together in an open office all day long, or your team members are spread across the globe. So in this exploration, don’t necessarily expect to see anything new just because you’re managing virtually. What you will read about here though, are the most effective management mindsets, tools and techniques, to work with teams that are not physically located together. As you use them, while deploying more people in more places, you will ideally come to see that while challenging, managing virtual teams has decided advantages; and if approached properly can achieve every result and then some that any physical team can.
In this initial article, I will discuss two areas of management attention, that if focused on, will provide rapid results in furthering connection and in fostering an environment of success.
The first is having clear expectations with performance metrics that can be monitored at a distance. You want to get these set right in the beginning of the relationship; to make it absolutely clear, that you are not managing busyness, or unessential activities, but only those aspects of the work that can clearly be described and agreed upon. And, in addition, you must have a simple way to measure your agreed upon results. So many issues will be avoided, I can almost guarantee you, if you clearly describe the goals and objectives of the position and how they will be monitored and measured.
In truth, this alignment is necessary whether physically present with your reports or at a distance. Clarity of expectations and our ability to measure performance is at the heart of a great working relationship. At a distance, when we can’t see what our people are doing, having this clear expectation agreement and a way to track, measure and quantify it is absolutely critical. Without this, you might as well set yourself up for daily and weekly frustration, since you won’t know what your team member is doing out there on the outskirts of your city or the other side of the globe.
Along with performance metrics, a structured communication system will keep your team members motivated and inspired, as well as connected to the company’s efforts to realize its vision and mission. Please notice the word structured; for it’s the key to creating a communication system unlike the willy-nilly happenstance of so many managers. Structure is easy, in this case, simply decide on the appropriate communication touches and adhere to them consistently.
For some, a daily huddle makes sense, where you and your report(s) get together for a few minutes in the morning to set up the day. For others, it’s a weekly, or bi-weekly, 1-1 meeting that provides the communication framework for a fantastic working relationship. You may also find consistent email and internal newsletters help keep everyone informed as well. The proper structure may require a certain amount of testing until you find the right schedule, but once you do, keep to it and you’ll find your people shine whether they are working right next to you or in another country.
These two simple aspects of management: clarity of expectations (and clear ways to measure them) and a consistent communication path will right away set your virtual team members up for achieving your desired results. The best thing about managing our people virtually is that it requires us, as managers, to create the right structure and systems, since we won’t be able to wing it like we might if our people were right there with us. But this is a great thing and the more we develop as managers, the more we will see that managing virtually has its advantages; one being that it forces us to adopt the structure, systems and communication paths that will deliver results whether we’re with our team physically or not.
After a corporate career in management and marketing, and over a decade of consulting and copywriting for Silicon Valley firms, Joe became an Emyth certified business coach and has helped hundreds of companies develop and grow their businesses. He works with clients throughout the world, many with remote offices and employees. He recognizes the need to adapt leadership and management mindsets and skills to the 21st century reality of working with teams and employees remotely and is passionate about helping them succeed. You may contact him at 707-238-5142, or check out his site at DynamicGrowthCoach.com.
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