Remote work is not a new phenomenon. For thousands of years, leaders have been managing people that are distributed and there is a formula that predicts success.
- How is that some rulers were able to lead their nation to great prosperity when others failed?
- How did successful generals overseeing thousands of soldiers dispersed across great lands still manage to fulfill their missions successfully?
- How do today's greatest leaders overseeing Fortune 500 companies with thousands of employees spread across different campuses still be profitable?
We are going to show you how your MOM is the biggest predictor of your ability to successfully oversee a remote workforce.
When I was nineteen years old I had the good fortune of being hired into a Fortune 500 company. It wasn't just any company but is still one of the leading Financial Services companies in the world today. The city where I worked included their five campuses and they eventually bought a mall to house their every growing workforce. Interestingly, as I was in technology I found it necessary to interact with all the various divisions and while I visited the various campuses occasionally the bulk of my work was conducted remotely.
Since that time I've overseen various large-scale projects and in all cases they involved a dispersed team. We didn't sit next to one another physically but we got the job done. Ask any Regional Manager and they will nod their head in agreement that it's not physical proximity that determines success but something else.
Interestingly, businesses are required to engage remotely with customers every day. They've proven they can serve and work with customers successfully without asking their customers to move in and live in their office building.
So why is there still a debate around remote work and how do you make remote work actually WORK for you? The first part of that question is rather simple. If you are having "trouble" with remote workers it is much easier to blame "remote work" as being the problem than taking accountability for the issues that need to be faced in your organization. (Ouch!) Remote work isn't the problem, but rather your management of it is. (Double ouch.)
Don't worry, we're here to help you debunk the myths and to show you how using your MOM can make the difference in successfully engaging your team. MOM is an acronym that you can use to help you evaluate and understand the areas within your organization that may need attention.
M - Management
We realize this seems pretty basic but allow us to state the obvious. You are only as good as the managers in your organization. Good management is what brings about success. If you don't have good management you will not have success. The same issues that you have sitting physically next to a person in your office will be the same issues you will have with a remote workforce. The bigger question is "Why does good management look like?" (There are thousands of books on this topic alone.) Some of the basic principles include making sure that you are connected, that you are actually being involved, and that you're not just assuming that your workforce all know what they are doing. According to Gallup only half of employees know what is expected of them at work.
An interesting exercise I love to give executives is to have them walk through one of their divisions. Take a look randomly at one of the employees under your direction and ask yourself this question "Do I know what this person is working on specifically today?" You'd be surprised to learn how many leaders don't have that level of insight into their people.
Creating a healthy culture of engagement starts with your employees understand how their work contributes to success and having managers who can equally speak to that individual's contribution. This is not an exercise in micro-management but an overall approach to your management.
Remember: The same problems you have working with a group in a physical building will be the same problems you have with a remote workforce. When you apply the same level of management expertise to all your staff, you will see how performance issues equally affect your team regardless of their location.
O - Operational Processes
Operational processes are not the sort of thing that lends itself to inspiring Ted Talks or getting teams excited. In short, they are boring but you must have great operational processes in place to engage your employees. What that means is that part of your processes is that you must be the active embodiment of what you are expecting of your staff.
One of the mistakes that many leaders and managers make is that they have a remote workforce but they've never actually tried working remotely themselves. If you want to have a successful remote workforce then you have to understand exactly what that experience is like. By deciding to work regularly from a remote location (and not just as a one-time experiment) you will know exactly what processes are necessary to design and develop for your managers.
At InspireHUB, we have designed a number of processes (along with an approach to what we value) that are now just second nature in our company. One of the most important things you can do with your remote workforce from a process perspective is making sure to replicate in the virtual space all those things that would normally happen within the environment of a traditional physical office.
For example, if every morning there is an informal update that happens in the kitchen between team members who share what they are working on that day then you need to intentionally recreate that experience virtually. At InspireHUB, our teams meet every morning on video chat (coffees in hand) for 15-minute stand-ups that ensure we are connecting.
Do not underestimate the power of successful operational processes. Having proper engagement systems in place can address many issues including nullifying resentment that can build between "offsite" and "onsite" employees by increasing trust and transparency but this only happens when you've designed the systems to facilitate successful engagement.
M - Measurement
You know how Mom's have a tendency to remind you annoyingly of the stuff you already know? The final element you must have of your organization is measurement and it's something you already know. The effectiveness of measurement is determined by the tools you use. Whether that is a management approach or an actual piece of technology.
At InspireHUB Technologies, admittedly we have made this our mission. We have created the IHUBApp that helps organizations boost their engagement and actually provide the ability to see the success through detailed analytics and reporting. It allows our customers to see how employees are engaging with their communications, we get rid of things like email fatigue where important communications can often get lost, and our technology ensures that everyone is getting notified in real-time about important messages.
We are a technology company and while we use the IHUBApp for ourselves (always a good sign) it's not the only tool we use. Your tool selection for your team is going to be critical. In our case, we have various development and project management tools that we use to get our work done. We combine all this with really great people in management, excellent operational processes, and the tools behind all this create an environment of success.