Leading Remote Workers

December 19, 2011 Simon Leadership Development

If the 2011 CISCO Connected World Technology Report is anything to go by, attracting and retaining the top talent of the future will be less about the traditional workplace motivational drivers and far more about issues such as remote working and flexible working hours.

What challenges does this trend create for leaders?

Leading remote workers has always been a difficult area as it presents leadership challenges around aspects such as trust, performance management, staff development and coaching, team working, communication, employee engagement and well-being. Let’s drill down a little on some of these points as examples of the type of challenges that will be faced:

Trust
When you try to get hold of a team member at 11am and then again at 2pm and on both occasions they are not contactable, will you trust that they are doing a full day’s work?

Performance Management
While the you might be able to see the work output, how will you know which methods were deployed to achieve these outputs?

Staff Development and Coaching
Good old fashioned Management By Walking Around (MBWA) used to provide a great opportunity for making impromptu coaching interventions. Similarly, if you and your team members are in the same workspace it is easy for them to ask you questions and receive coaching. What happens when they are out of reach most of the time?

Team Working
If your team are dispersed, how will they develop a bond, team spirit and a cooperative mindset?

My perspective on this is that in order for leaders to be successful in making this transition they will have to learn to manage less and lead more.

Effective leadership has always been about creating an environment in which people can and do perform to the best of their ability. With more remote workers operating on flexible schedules the shift will be helping team members create their own environment where they can and do perform to the best of their ability.

Leaders will have to learn how to lead and inspire through vision and values rather than tasks and goals. Relationship and team building skills will become more critical than ever before. Communication tools will need to be utilized more effectively.

In truth I don’t have all the answers but I am looking forward to helping leaders overcome these challenges as society moves towards more remote and flexible working.

See you at the top :)
Simon

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Leadership, Leadership Development, leading across boundaries, leading remote workers, remote leadership,

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