If your employees are spread across the country, it adds an additional element of complexity to your leadership duties. What can you do to ensure your leadership skills are effective for all of your employees, no matter their location? Here are five tips for leaders with a remote workforce:
Use the Cloud
Using the cloud makes it possible to work anytime, anywhere. As long as employees have access to the internet, they can accomplish their work. With the proliferation of mobile devices, it is easier than ever to get the information needed to do a job. The cloud gives everyone access to the same information and allows employees in different locations around the country or around the world to work together.
Employees who work remotely need to have certain personality traits. The most important things to look for in a remote employee are:
- Self-motivation. Your employees must be able to work when they say they will and compel themselves to finish projects and meet deadlines with minimal supervision.
- Assertive communications. If employees cannot be assertive about what they need, it will be difficult as a leader to know how to help.
- The ability to problem-solve. Often times, remote employees will need to resolve problems or find answers using their own resources and abilities.
Set Clear Goals
Clearly defining your goals will help remote employees understand, work toward, and reach your expectations. Goals should be measureable, attainable, and based on outcome, not activity. Some examples of effective goals include the number of problem tickets addressed in an hour, orders processed in a day, or telephone calls answered in a week. These goals are clear, measurable, and achievable.
Pick up the Phone
While email and texting are great for quick communications, sometimes a telephone call is best. Actually speaking with someone can make an employee feel more connected and involved. Written communications, such as email, can be easily misinterpreted or misunderstood. When dealing with a difficult situation or a problem, it is much better to speak to an employee or chat face-to-face via video conferencing to clearly communicate the issue and resolve it.
It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page and has the same communication priorities. Consider implementing the following practices:
- Set guidelines for expectations regarding communications. Define working hours for remote employees so everyone knows their availability, and set a schedule for responding to emails and voicemail.
- Have routine phone calls with your remote employees to discuss any problems, questions, concerns, or just to check in.
- When you have meetings, include remote employees via phone or video chat so they can hear the same information as on-site employees. Try and schedule regular face-to-face meetings with remote employees when possible.
- Remember to close the communication loop and provide feedback to remote employees. Often remote employees don’t hear about how they are doing or what they could do to improve.
Having remote employees creates challenges not faced by leaders with a traditional workforce. If you use these tips to lead your remote workforce, you will encourage happy, productive employees, which will lead to greater success for you and your business.