70% of professionals work remotely at least once a week (more than half work from home more than half the week). More importantly, 90% of the US workforce would like to work remotely at least part of the time.
Remote workers are the fastest growing segment of the workforce (faster than any generation). Are you prepared to work with them as effectively as the rest of your team?
Great leaders are effective whether their employees are in-office or remote. They have a coaching mindset: they genuinely care about unlocking greatness in their people. Research continues to demonstrate that coaching is one of the most powerful levers for unlocking people’s talent.
In honor of World Internet Day and the way the internet has revolutionized the way we work, here are 4 tips for coaching remote employees.
Value the Person First
75% of employees consider their direct boss to be the worst part of their job. 65% of employees would take a new manager over a pay raise! Why do so many employees feel disconnected from their manager? Because they don’t have a strong relationship.
Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Every conversation a leader has makes an impact; this impact is what drives execution. And every conversation is an opportunity to bring this mindset of coaching to bear and increase your impact. When you genuinely care during every conversation (and listening is a key way to show caring), you make a positive impact on the relationship. It is always in your power to choose what kind of impact you have—positive or negative.
A coaching mindset values the person first in order to help them get results. When people don’t feel valued, they disengage and withhold their discretionary effort. So, before you dive into the task, take time to ask how his/her day is going. Make time for small talk. This small tweak can make a big difference in your relationship.
Hold Longer One on Ones
Wait! You want me to have LONGER meetings? Well, at least allow time for them.
Remember your remote employees don’t have the luxury of popping in to ask a question or get clarification. They might also miss out on some updates that spread through word of mouth around the office. Make sure you allow time in your one on ones (at least an hour, every week) to talk about the things a remote employee might have missed.
Longer one on ones give you time to cover a variety of topics, but also dive deep when needed. It also leaves you feeling like you have time for small talk and personal conversations—like the ones you’re already having with your in-office team.
Relatedly, never cancel a one-on-one. Reschedule if you must, but canceling demonstrates to your employees that the one-on-one isn’t a priority. Little things build up during a week and leaving them all until next week will overwhelm the conversation next time.
Remember Their Career Development
Many companies consider their employees’ professional development to be a top priority. Remember the popular fable:
A CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company?” The CEO replies, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
Large companies (10,000+ employees) spend, on average, $13 million on training and development EVERY YEAR.
Does that same value get applied to your remote employees? It’s easy to think of remote employees more like contractors, but it’s important to remember that your remote employees have goals that your organization can (and must) help them meet.
Download this free Development Dialogue to plan your development conversations for in-office or remote employees.
Have A Process
Quantity is only one small part of communicating with remote employees. In conversations, quality is even more important. Implementing a process to guide conversations with your remote employees can drastically improve your interactions.
Conversation frameworks like the GROW® Model can keep every conversation on-track and productive. Once you develop a framework, every conversation can be a coaching conversation and you can draw the best out of your employees, be they in-office or in far-flung lands.
Two key elements of any productive conversation are goal alignment and follow-through.
Show your interest in your employee by caring about his/her goals and making sure your goals match up. Asking, “What do we each want to get out of this conversation?” at the beginning of every conversation focuses your time together and creates a line of sight to how much time you’ll need. It’s a key component of genuine caring.
To know how a remote employee is doing, engage in a dialogue based on some simple questions. It’s a simple way to remove the guesswork on how you and your remote employee are working together. End every conversation by both answering these simple questions:
Where are we getting stuck?
What do we need to do differently?
One of the most important things you can provide your remote workers is consistency. Make these practices a part of your regular routine with your team. The key is to adapt the practices you use in-house to benefit your outside team. There is a plethora of tools to help, but at the end of the day, nothing helps more than fostering the right mindset.