How to Lead Remotely

 

Check In

Check in and communicate with your team members on a regular basis if the normal flow of work doesn’t naturally create opportunities for contact. 

Look Who's Talking

Communication expectations should be clear. That includes who to CC, BCC, etc. At the Executive Service Corps (ESC) we have a policy of putting committee members email addresses in the in the BCC line of emails. That way there’s no embarrassing reply all situations. Alternatively, with project teams we put everyone in the To or CC area because it is a small group that needs to rapidly communicate with one another. 

Email or Call

Keep emails five sentences or shorter. Use bullet points. If you have more to say, call or video conference. 

Email Tone

Emails can come across with a more negative or directive tone than intended if they lack the pleasantries of normal conversation. As a result, communicate your tone clearly by adding greetings, acknowledgements, exclamation points, emojis, or whatever is needed to clearly communicate tone. 

Audio Tone

Make sure to start each call, whether 1:1 or a group teleconference, with a clear and positive tone. If you start out with a gripe, you can predict that the meeting will be negative and will end poorly too.

 

Endings Matter

When concluding a meeting via video or teleconference take a moment to thank individuals for attending. 

Reports

Reports are often over used by remote managers. Try and avoid adding work that is just about showing the leader what team members are doing. Instead find natural ways to see the work in the flow of the day. 

Results should be tracked in the work flow process and not require the addition of a new activity. Those results provide accountability and an opportunity to acknowledge and give positive feedback. 

 

Utilize Technology

Having access to remote work technology allows team members to work effectively and communicate in a timely fashion. Read ESC’s “How to Successfully Telecommute when Working from Home” https://www.execservicecorps.org/telecommute for information on how to do so effectively. 

 

Avoid a Culture of the 24/7 Office

Maintain on and off hours to avoid burnout. The Executive Service Corps (ESC) encourages staff to unplug when not at work. Team members have the understanding that if it’s an emergency their leader will phone or text them. If not, the email can wait to the next time they are seated to work. Emails are like left overs, they aren’t going to immediately spoil. Breaks from work help retain staff and assist staff in solving work issues more efficiently due to the time off they have to do critical thinking while engaging in other activities such as reading a good book. 

 

Outcomes not Activity

Measure your team members' results against their goals and how they fit into the organization’s strategic plan and mission. 

Don’t focus on the hours on the clock. 

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