Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Discovering remote employees' needs, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
When you prepare for a vacation, it's not uncommon to think about your destination and take some sort of mental inventory of all the stuff you have and all the stuff you need to get. You might lie things out onto your bed and check off a list you made just to make sure you have everything. If you still arrive at your destination without a toothbrush, you update your list and pop into the nearest convenience store and pick one up. Just like it's a part of the vacation process, understanding and addressing needs is also part of being a remote manager.
In fact, it's conducted in almost exactly the same manner. First, start by getting a sense of what your employees have and don't have. This is as easy as asking a series of questions. To help you with that part, I've included an exercise file with a full list of questions to get you going. A few of those questions are what is the nearest airport, and how long would it take you to get there? What technology do you have? Desktops, laptops, iPads, a smart phone, and if so, what type? Printer, fax, email, internet, Mac or PC? What phone numbers shall we use to reach you? Which is your preference? Asking these questions can help you figure out what you need to address at the very start of the relationship instead of reacting to something down the road.
Not only can it save you time, it can also save you unwanted stress. Next is the part where you actually do something and address what they need, most likely by providing the things they don't have that you discovered from asking the questions in the previous step. Some suggestions you may want to consider. First, work with your employee and prioritize their needs. If it has to do with their productivity, it should be considered as a top priority.
Second, take timelines into account. If something is going to take three to six weeks to address, you might need to create a temporary fix to get your employee through that period. Lastly, it's time to close the gaps that aren't addressed by a quick fix. This is the proactive part where you go through each of the needs and make sure there's a plan to address them. Refer to the plan often and provide updates with your employees. Expanding the scope of this gap-closing list can address overall department efficiency items.
For example, if any software requires a license, this is a good time to have your employee put a renewal reminder in their calender, ideally about 30 days in advance of the expiration. If your company is doing a computer refresh in mid January and it's just now September, put together a plan ensuring your employee has an interim computer or if your employee is taking vacation, you can also try to get the computer refreshed while they're away. It becomes a productive vacation with no work time lost.
Lastly, when it comes to scheduling training for your employee, the sooner you can put this on the calender the better. Making sure your employees have what they need can help them be both happy and productive. It makes for a great environment for your remote team and it can help ensure you have more restful vacations as well.
Discover how to build rapport, set mutual expectations, communicate, connect, overcome conflict, get work done, and grow the team. Also included is a look at the top five challenges managers face in leading remote teams and helpful solutions that will get your team on track.
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