Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

De­velop rou­tines: Con­sis­tent com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­tact helps to cre­ate a sense of be­long­ing and team­work. Off-site work­ers know they are val­ued and that con­tact with them is im­por­tant. Be sure to touch your off-site em­ploy­ees through as many com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels as pos­si­ble and as con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble. Sched­ule a weekly meet­ing time and be sure to keep it. Be avail­able: Since it’s so easy to mis­com­mu­ni­cate, it’s im­por­tant to make your­self avail­able to dis­cuss is­sues as they arise. If you can­not be avail­able, en­sure there is a backup. Re­spond to mes­sages quickly even if the re­sponse is that you’ll re­ply more fully at a later time. Em­ploy­ees need to know man­agers are there for them. Com­mu­ni­cate around mile­stones: Use the mile­stones as an op­por­tu­nity for di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion in or­der to pro­vide feed­back and to stay con­nected with the em­ployee. Ar­range a face-to-face meet­ing where pos­si­ble and cost ef­fec­tive. Re­ward and rec­og­nize: Take time to rec­og­nize em­ployee ef­forts more fre­quently than if you were work­ing side by side. Send a quick note or make a quick tele­phone call. If you have a staff news­let­ter, use it to in­tro­duce staff ac­com­pa­nied by pho­tos so that col­leagues can get a vis­ual of those they work with re­motely. Take ad­van­tage of tech­nol­ogy: Tech­nol­ogy ad­vances now al­low us to hold group meet­ings through emerg­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion soft­ware, net­work­ing and re­mote-ac­cess tech­nol­ogy, many of which are ac­com­pa­nied by video ca­pa­bil­ity. This is an ideal and in­ex­pen­sive way to get peo­ple to­gether. Use it fre­quently to get your Plan pe­ri­odic group meet­ings: Plan to hold bi-an­nual and/or quar­terly group meet­ings as a means of shar­ing in­for­ma­tion and build­ing team spirit. Link th­ese meet­ings up with team train­ing, group shar­ing, prod­uct knowl­edge and/or new ser­vice an­nounce­ments. Be sure to hold spe­cial event gath­er­ings such as a staff party dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Mea­sure task/pro­ject per­for­mance: Since in­di­vid­u­als are not within arm’s reach, su­per­vi­sors/ man­agers must en­sure they es­tab­lish ac­cu­rate and well-de­fined key-per­for­mance mea­sures. This means fo­cus­ing on ele­ments such as pro­ject dead­lines, con­tent, ac­cu­racy, com­plete­ness, col­lab­o­ra­tion and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. Man­age your own dis­com­fort: While some man­agers start out think­ing over­see­ing off-site work­ers will not be a chal­lenge, they of­ten find old bi­ases un­ex­pect­edly creep to the top of their minds. Learn to rec­og­nize your un­com­fort­able feel­ings, ask your­self why you’re feel­ing that way and re­solve it. Avoid mak­ing as­sump­tions and be­com­ing con­cerned when the em­ployee’s tele­phone is busy. Rec­og­nize the bi­ases and old philoso­phies and re­think your ap­proach.

Telecom­muters, home-based work­ers and/ or those who travel a great deal need spe­cial on­go­ing per­sonal at­ten­tion in or­der to de­velop a strong sense of col­lab­o­ra­tion and team­work. This re­quires strong or­ga­ni­za­tional sup­ports and a su­per­vi­sory style that en­sures con­crete goals, ob­jec­tives and task com­ple­tion re­mains the ba­sis for em­ployee per­for­mance rather than the old fash­ioned, “bums in the seat” ap­proach.

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