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September 26, 2013

How to Be Available for a Virtual Team

Many employees work from home part or all of the time, are on the road traveling for work, or work in field offices. But even if you work in the same office as your employees, you are probably gone a lot with meetings and obligations that take you outside the office. An absent manager can be either a benefit or for a team.shutterstock_85747939

It’s good if both manager and staff know how much authority they have to act alone, the manager trusts them to make decisions, and gives them autonomy. This can help develop their leadership skills. On the other hand, in a less supportive environment, having an absent manager is a mine field. Employees feel disempowered and fear making a decision since there could be repercussions if it is wrong. Problems don’t get solved, communication is non-existent, projects are delayed, and morale is poor.

So what can you do if you are an absent manager to help your employees succeed in your absence? Here are some tips:

  • Find ways of being available virtually. Use text messaging for quick questions and responses, check email often, and set up dedicated e-mail inboxes for staff questions only.
  • Hold virtual meetings. Use technology to meet virtually with your team at least bi-weekly to reinforce their activities and be available for “face-to-face” discussion.
  • Show up in person. That’s right. Schedule set times to meet in person in the office with your team. No communication is more effective than in-person communication.
  • Make sure employees know what is expected. Creating clear performance plans and job descriptions are good tools for keeping employees on track when you are not around.
  • Provide training and resources. Make sure employees have the tools and skills they need to work independently.

The bottom line is creating an environment of trust and empowerment where employees are accountable for producing results.

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