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.
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