In my last blog “Driving Remote Employee Engagement”, we discussed how over the last few months the business reality for many organizations has shifted from a live office environment to a remote office environment. This shift has made employee engagement of virtual employees critical as they can become easily distracted and disengaged. These employees may be doing the bare minimum and, in some cases, could even be sabotaging projects and/or the company’s reputation.
One of the three main areas from the Dale Carnegie™ research discussed in the previous blog was “Satisfaction with Immediate Managers”. Virtual employees will no longer be satisfied with the old “Command and Control” management style. Virtual employees want to know that their managers care about them and their wellbeing as a person and they do not just see them like a tool to get the job done. This requires managers to upskill their “Interpersonal Skills”, develop stronger relationships, and to become the type of person that employees want to follow.
Many managers have been promoted because of their technical expertise or years of knowledge with no formal leadership training. These managers may not have a solid understanding of the important role leaders have on the motivation and productivity of a team, which can be a detriment to the organization. The most successful organizations make it a priority to give their managers the tools they need to engage their virtual teams.
How do you increase the success of your team? Managers can start by getting to know their teams. Some managers do this naturally while others need to be trained. For those that need help here are 5 steps to follow:
- Set an appointment to meet with them virtually. Managers are busy and get pulled in different directions all day long. Treat your virtual employees as you would a customer; set an appointment in your calendar to spend 5 to 15 minutes each quarter getting to know them better. These conversations should be separate from the normal one-on-one meetings or performance review meetings you have with the employee. If you have never done this before, have a kickoff meeting with the team ahead of time to let them know one of your goals is to get to know everyone better.
- Carve out uninterrupted time. If possible, make sure to meet with them “on camera”. When you are at a video conference, it is easy to get distracted so turn off your cell phone, close your email, and pay attention to your employee.
- Ask open-ended questions. Remember this is not an interrogation it’s a conversation. Make sure you are relaxed and allowing the employee to do most of the talking. Managers should be asking open-ended questions that allow the employee to do most of the talking. If you hear an answer that they could expound upon, ask a follow-up question like; “How so?”, “Why is that?”, or “Tell me more?”
- Listen to understand. The purpose of these types of “interviews” is to have a solid understanding of the employee. Try and find out:
- What they feel their strengths are
- What they are passionate about
- What they are proud of
- Where they see themselves growing
- What obstacles/challenges may be impacting them
- What motivates them
- Follow through on insights. These “getting to know you” conversations are also great tools to see if managers need to provide resources or remove obstacles for their team members. Make sure managers act on insights so that the remote employee feels the manager “has their back”.
Managers that take the time to get to know their virtual team will develop stronger relationships with them. Those relationships will help engage virtual employees. And, engaged employees can have a huge impact on innovating to help ensure the success of their organization, as well as, other strong bottom-line impacts through decreased turnover and increased productivity. All driving to greater organizational profitability.
Interested in learning more, join us for a complimentary 1-hour webinar, Managers Matter: Remote Employee Engagement, on September 16 at 9:00 AM.