If you are planning to work remotely (or already do), being separated from your manager by geography can be very challenging. Given that this style of work is increasingly common, what’s the solution? Don’t assume you and your boss will “just figure out” the best way to work together. Ask early and often about their expectations of you and how you can communicate with them and deliver work most effectively. I’ve managed remote employees and it works best to establish the rules of engagement upfront. Here is some advice to help:
Find out their priorities – When you meet with a new manager for the first time, ask about his or her priorities and what is needed for him or her to be successful. Based on what you learn, develop a plan for your contributions right away, and make sure your boss is aware of those contributions.
Keep in contact – Make sure you and your manager decide how and when you are going to communicate. Email and a quick phone call may work for day-to-day issues that arise, but also build in regular, one-on-one touch bases too. I like to do these via Skype or another video method so I can see the person for a better connection.
Prepare an agenda – Collaborate to develop an agenda so each of you has the chance to cover the issues most important to you.
Don’t multitask during meetings – During meetings, don’t be tempted to multitask. Give the person your full attention and turn off your devices and email.
Be transparent – Use these check-ins as an opportunity to be transparent about what’s really going on. Bad news doesn’t get better with time, so be prompt about communicating any problems and remind your boss about your accomplishments as well.
Recap the conversation – When you hang up, be proactive about summarizing the meeting in email.
Seek out face-to-face meetings – Seek out opportunities for in-person contact whenever possible.
Build a bond – You can “put money in the bank” with a remote manager just like you can with a colleague or client. If you have calls on a Monday or a Friday, you can either ask what they did over the weekend, or what they’re planning for the weekend ahead. I’ve found this to be a very effective way to deepen the relationship beyond the business at hand.
As with all managers, if you say you’re going to do something, show you can be counted on without numerous reminders. Take on additional responsibilities without being asked, and when you receive constructive feedback, be grateful rather than defensive and work to incorporate it immediately.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She has over 30 years of experience in the market research field, with expertise in identifying and developing new business opportunities and client partnerships. Schoenbart was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market by the CEO Connection. She is also the recipient of the Long Island Brava Award, which recognizes high-impact female business leaders, and the Legacy Award from Women in Consumer Technology. Schoenbart is passionate about coaching others to greater levels of achievement. She is a resident of Long Island, NY. To learn more, visit: www.KarynSchoenbart.com.