Blog

Managing Remotely

Leading remote teams creates some unique challenges. This is especially true for those of us who work as consultants.

Remote workers often don’t understand expectations and how to be extra vigilant about being accountable, according to Gallup. “Employees learn a lot about their expectations from context — and the less time they spend in the office, the less context they have,” say Gallup researchers. “So, managers need to be explicit about what remote workers must produce. The parameters, deadlines and metrics of tasks must be crystal clear, but so should the manager’s requests.”

Managing expectations is always difficult. What’s expected often gets confused as it’s passed from manager to manager and peer to peer (as we’ve all experienced playing the “Telephone Game” as children). When working remote, the challenge increases. We are exposed to fewer peer examples and support systems. We can no longer just drop in on peers and managers to get clarity.

Here are three things that can help:

  1. Own half the loaf. While managers should be clear in the directions they provide, it isn’t always the case. As a consultant, you own half the relationship. You remain accountable for ensuring that the right message was heard. If you have even the slightest niggling that there is a gap in understanding, go back and get on the same page.
  2. Repeat backs. I love this tool. When a manager give you a directive, it is wise to repeat back to them what you think you heard. It’s great way to build confidence and demonstrate active listening. That you clearly understand the mission. The technique is useful when talking face-to-face, meeting virtually, or responding to directive via text or email.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Chances are, you have more than one directive to juggle. It’s essential that your manager and team understands your short-term and long-term goals and expectations for success. Share you task list (top three items) of what you perceive is most important to accomplish for the week. For longer-range goals, provide a roadmap of your vision and how you see your work developing over the next three months. Lists and roadmaps not only ensure alignment, such sharing can often prompt new ideas and innovation.

Using such tools is a great way to spark meaningful conversations and to ensure that you and your manager are on the same page. What ideas do you have about managing expectations when working remote?


Author: Barry Lawrence | Senior Communications Consultant