Sticky Notes: Management from a Distance

Would you rather have an employee: a) in a certain place during certain hours; or b) an employee who gets lots of work done well, fast, and with a great attitude but who has flexible hours?

How do you manage people working in remote locations?

Managing in-person gives you the illusion of control. But place and time are usually poor measures of performance. Would you rather have an employee: a) in a certain place during certain hours; or b) an employee who gets lots of work done well, fast, and with a great attitude but who has flexible hours?

Everyone chooses option b. But making that work requires more closely monitoring, measuring, documenting, and managing concrete actions. And that requires high-structure, high-substance communication, which means:

  • Get used to regular one-on-one video chat or telephone calls.
  • Prior to the chat/call, prepare an advance written punch-list with highlights from the previous call, and key matters to discuss in this call, including examples of work-in-progress, as well as open decisions, resource planning, and trouble-shooting.
  • Then, write a follow-up recap immediately after the call of what you have agreed to in your conversation, including next steps/actions to be taken, timeline, and date/time of the next call.
  • Use your follow-up recaps as a paper or electronic trail and as a running check-list of items to accomplish, and another way to track and document performance.
Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done”( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: rainmakerthinking.com.