Remote and local management or how to invent the management of tomorrow ?
For several years, well before the COVID19 crisis, we have observed that remote work and management have been developing all over the world. These practices are certainly facilitated by communication technologies and allow access to talent located geographically in other countries and cultures. This has been very true in information systems, software and graphic or digital video creation, and it has begun to spread to other fields, including management. One of the reasons for this is the globalization of business: in particular the rise of China and the consumer markets in Asia have brought new challenges for large groups organized by macro geographical zones… such as EMEA (Europe Middle East Pacific or APAC, Asia Pacific)… Faced with the need to manage and mobilize teams from different cultures over vast expanses without being able to travel regularly to all these new areas, new ways of operating have been invented in the field. These remote management practices were still far from being widespread throughout France before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In record time, teleworking and remote management became widespread without any possible preparation or the necessary hindsight to set up all the conditions for success. Once this emergency phase is over, the challenge will be to invent a new way of working adapted to this “new normal”, a new normality of which we still know very little, except that a new form of remote and local management will probably take hold for some time.
For most leaders in the world, this means new circumstances: some of the employees present in the workplace and others continuing to work remotely by choice or necessity. The managers themselves may be partially present or may also work remotely. In short, teams with variable geometry even in a single area!
Challenge #1: create the conditions for success
The first challenge for companies and their leaders will be to put in place favorable conditions for remote and local management.
Based on observations of what works best in companies that have been practicing it for a long time, some essential elements have been identified to prepare the organization for a remote working mode and to prepare its managers and their teams to:
- Establish a clear general policy
- Provide adequate communication tools
- Train employees and managers in these tools
- Revisit the criteria for remuneration and career plans.
- Helping managers and their teams to become “e-managers” and “e-collaborators”.
These elements are certainly essential and will allow an efficient use of telework, but they are not sufficient, especially in the long term.
Intuitively we know that the essential element of collective cohesion is the social bond. The conditions of connection between the managers and their collaborators and the quality of the links is even more critical than in a face-to-face meeting. Misunderstandings easily arise, isolation, actual or felt, entails real suffering … the risk of misunderstandings linked to misinterpretations is amplified by distance …
Challenge #2: Maintain the connection
Managers are facing new challenges with distance that only amplify those previously known regarding the communication and management of their team:
- Communicating with everyone AND continuing to bring together the entire team remotely.
- Re-creating rituals and establishing new rules of communication that are clear and fair.
- Emotionally supporting your employees AND protecting yourself
- Constantly encouraging efforts AND giving feedback on progress without delay.
Challenge #3: Communicate effectively to strengthen trust and commitment
Communicating effectively remotely involves challenges both in terms of work organization and time management…but also raises questions about how to manage: the degree of control and delegation and the creation of a relationship of trust.
If you are also in an intercultural environment, this adds other challenges: those of the possible mastery of a working language other than your mother tongue, or differences in the relationship to time, power, or communication itself…
The right quality and quantity of communication is totally subjective, you must take time to investigate what is appropriate … is it the same as “before” when you were face-to-face? Perhaps it is more or less? Different, for sure!
Even more than when face-to-face, you will need to ensure that your communication is received clearly and accurately, have it rephrased, reformulate it yourself… Explain what has been agreed upon in what timeframe and with what resources!
But above all, remotely, what is not said is not heard, implicit recognition signals are not likely to be understood … So, give Feedback constantly, much more than you would in person, to encourage, to help develop and to correct what does not work … Also think of Feedforward, which allows the employee to receive concrete suggestions “in the future, I suggest …” at the right time and well suited to the situation!
Challenge #4: review time management
It is a unique opportunity to revisit the use of time: of one’s own time and that of the members of one’s team…
Here are some questions for a first check up:
1. Your time management is efficient enough
2. You are focused on the real priorities
3. Your time is well allocated between the different activities
4. Are your rhythms adapted to the stakes? To your balance?
5. Is your meeting schedule still relevant?
6. Is your time in bilateral meetings sufficient?
7. Is your time for reflection and analysis adapted to the situation?
8. Is the time devoted to relationships and connection always present? in sufficient quantity and quality?
9. Are you sufficiently available?
10. Have you set enough boundaries between your private and professional space?
11. Once you have answered for yourself, ask yourself the same questions to your close collaborators, ask them what they think about it … Ask them to do the same with their own teams if they have any.
Challenge #5: Organize effective meetings Working efficiently on a daily basis without losing sight of medium-term objectives is one of the major concerns of managers of mixed teams or completely remote teams.
- Preparing meetings and conducting them well
- Ensuring a rigorous follow-up
- Deciphering the unsaid, reacting to defensive reactions
- Managing emotions, one’s own and those of others
Challenge #6: manage mixed virtual and physically present teams
This is the last challenge that managers are increasingly faced with, with key questions on maintaining overall coherence and team cohesion, managing relationships and possible conflicts, etc.
- Organizing your “mixed” team
- Establishing complementarities (skills, behaviors, distance, presence, …)
- Understanding their expectations, their motivation and their commitment.
The environment for leaders will be increasingly volatile, uncertain and changing: teleworking and the management of teams located in different places with variable geometries are gradually establishing themselves as a new “normality” … These new ways of working can sometimes enrich teams of employees with other perspectives, other cultures, other rhythms. Becoming an accomplished e-manager will be one of the success factors of tomorrow’s leaders…
- Reinvent the way you work as a leader
- Learn to prioritize, develop your flexibility
- Redefine the way you control and delegate
It’s time to develop the coach in you to empower and grow your teams!
Catherine Tanneau – Master Certified Coach, head of Variations International and Activision Coaching Institute and co-founder of Welead coaching
We offer three remote management systems supervised by our experienced coaches, who are ICF certified and experienced in supporting transformations:
- ON-LINE WORKSHOPS – Remote management: our new tomorrow.
- THE ESSENTIALS OF COACHING FOR LEADERS AND MANAGERS.
- THE CONDUCT OF TRANSFORMATIONS FOR LEADERS AND MANAGERS.
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