I teach workshops to managers on the subject of "Leading Remote Workers." In addition to a variety of managers, several HR professionals have attended the last few workshops. These HR professionals tell me the reason they attend is so they can more effectively coach managers in their organizations who are struggling to effectively manage remote workers.
Today, remote workers are very common in organizations. Whether in a different city or country or just on another floor or working at home, there are more remote workers in organizations today than ever before. For many managers, managing these remote employees is more challenging than managing co-located employees.
Some of the issues I hear managers (and HR professionals) describe include:
- How can I get to know them when we haven't even met face-to-face?
- How do I recognize when there is a problem before it gets out of hand?
- How can I delegate to them when I can't easily check on their progress?
- How do I measure their performance when I don't see them?
These and many more are legitimate issues. And, they are issues that aren't going to get resolved without some focus.
There are three keys to be successful as a remote leader:
- Building Relationships
- Empowering Others
- Measuring Performance
In the remote environment, we lose visual cues to help us understand people. However, Interaction Styles (Berens, 2001) can give us good clues on how to do these three things more successfully.