Remote leadership: The imagined challenges
Many managers might be concerned at the thought of having to manage remotely. As HR gears up to continue to support them, it might be worth considering whether remote managing is, in fact, that different from managing in-person. While distance might be a significant factor, a leader or coach managing from a distance might have to focus on a few things to make the connection stronger. However, the concept of this form of leadership is not nearly as different as we would like to imagine it is.
Come to think of it, remote management or leadership is not a new concept. Ancient rulers managed vast kingdoms spread across massive parts of the worlds. That is what I am willing to consider as a challenge. What they did not have then and that we have extremely efficient forms of now is the boon of technology. Today, communicating with someone in any part of the world takes no time and effort. What does take a slight bit more of effort when it comes to managing remotely is the discipline that managers might need to inculcate in their schedules in a simple way around management.
Here are three things that can help you with remote management if you’re willing to carry them out systematically and with discipline:
Communication is, of course, integral to any form of working relationships, whether one is managing a team or not. However, in the case of remote management, this becomes crucial and critical. When managing in-person, the advantage is that a lot of our communication takes place by virtue of being close enough to each other. Subconsciously, we are aware that our manager/team member is in the next room and that builds a safety net in our minds. The difference with remote management is that we need to build that safety net in spite of the distance.
Try frequent check-ins. Schedule as many as you’d like initially, and then reduce the frequency if you feel that you’re in a good place. Send status updates that both manager and managee can refer to at any point in time. Be accountable to each other - don’t make it one person’s responsibility to make this communication happen.
Try different forms – calls or video chats. Do virtual lunch conversations. If your organization’s budget allows for it, travel to each other’s locations.
Build the relationship just through more frequent conversations. The challenge here is not the fact that distance hinders building of strong relationships, the difference is just the time taken to make it happen.
The fear that might get aggravated with distanced management is that of trust. When building relationships, or even nurturing them, what helps us cross over the fine line of much-needed trust is the fact that we believe that both parties are being honest. In management, to trust that one’s manager has one’s best interest at heart is absolutely crucial. What we might forget is the importance of the team member building that trust in themselves, too. Delegation requires that one’s manager has complete faith, but with distance what takes time to build is the faith that one will deliver to one’s best potential and in time. This too might take time and a necessary mindset for distance management is patience.
Take advantage of technology
The merits of being in a world where technology is so advanced is many a times over-looked. A few years ago, we could have never communicated this easily with people in just any part of the world. Give the power of communication and trust time in remote management. The rest of what we perceive to be challenges will be much easier to resolve thereafter.