The Distance Manager Introduction As a distance leader it is not my job to control, but rather to teach associates that are not at my location how to control themselves. The Seven Competencies of an Effective Distance Manager The leader’s role is ultimately to help people learn to lead themselves. This principle is the foundation of success for every distance manager. One of the best ways to describe the overall role of the distance manager is as a boundary manager. Traditional supervisors usually work in the system, but boundary manages work on the system instead. That means working on things that affect the ability of the operation to be successful. Boundary mangers assume that team members are already doing the best they can within the constraints of the system in which they are working. So they focus on improving or redesigning the system itself. The overall role of the distance manager is to manage the team boundary. Sample boundary tasks: Introducing team members to key external contacts Buffering the team from corporate pressure Bringing in information from headquarters Building communication linkages between team members Solving problems between team or individuals Bringing in technical training Getting resources for the team Effective distance managers possess a number of generic attributes, such as a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful, excellent oral and written communication abilities, and a strong interpersonal and technical skill base consistent with the organization’s culture. Distance managers must be competent in the same leadership activities as other effective managers. They: 1. Articulate a vision for the organization 2. Get good results 3. Actively facilitate and develop team members 4. Aggressively eliminate barriers to team effectiveness 5. Understand and communicate business and customer needs 6. Effectively coach individuals and teams 7. Set a personal example These behaviors can be developed into seven clusters of competencies which further clarify the required skills for a successful distance leader: 1. Leader a. The leader unleashes energy and enthusiasm by creating a vision that others fond inspiring and motivating. I should have a picture of what is possible for the team I lead. A powerful vision of accomplishment transcends the distance caused by space or culture and focuses everyone on a common cause. 2. Results catalyst a. The results catalyst helps the team improve performance, gets good results without resorting to authoritarian methods, manages by principle rather than by policy, and uses boundaries rather than directives. One of the most powerful competencies of the distance leader is the ability to focus people on getting good results. b. The bottom line is the bottom line. The way I deliver results is important too. Distance managers who are good at managing by principle rather than by policy and at using boundaries rather than directives are normally more effective than those who get results by using a more autocratic approach. It makes more sense to empower associates to get good results than to try to force them to get them. But I have got to deliver the results. 3. Facilitator a. The facilitator brings together the necessary tools, information, and resources for the team to get the job done, and facilitates group efforts. Distance managers rely heavily on things like information and digital communication networks to substitute for their personal presence. 4. Barrier buster a. The barrier buster opens doors and runs interference for the team, challenges to the status quo, and breaks down artificial barriers to the team’s performance. 5. Business analyzer a. The business analyzer understand the big picture, is able to translate changes in the business environment into opportunities for the organization. 6. Coach a. The coach teaches others and helps them develop their potential, maintains an appropriate authority balance, and ensures accountability in others 7. Living example a. The living example serves as a role model for others by “walking the talk” and demonstrating the desired behaviors of team members and leaders. While the distance leader can’t regularly demonstrate proper meeting behavior, they can model things such as appropriate virtual meeting behavior, Internet etiquette, and e-mail usage. Five Things That Cripple the Effectiveness of the Distance Manager Leading a virtual team is difficult. The leader must provide structure, facilitate involvement, surface the personal dimension of the team members, recognize contributions, and be an involved sponsor. They role model the use of technology. They have to display disciplined follow-up. Virtual interactions are complex and very fatiguing. Five things that can cripple effectiveness: 1. Be a leader, results catalyst, facilitator, barrier buster, coach, and living example a. Don’t be autocratic nor an abdicator. i. There are lots of ways managers can be seen as autocratic. Focusing too much energy on the means (throughput) rather than the ends (output) of the work commonly leads to this problem. When the team itself requires throughput monitoring to accomplish its task, that’s one thing; but when the information gathering is mandated by managers for the sole benefit of the manager, it actually causes more problems than it solves. ii. In many circumstances, for example, people have discovered that the process of frequently submitting electronic status reports for distance managers costs significantly more in lost time and salaries than the value of any improvements that result from the process. Good distance mangers avoid this trap. If such frequent reporting really is necessary, consider something like posting status reports on a public electronic bulletin board. This appears less authoritarian because everybody can see what everybody else is doing, which helps other team members stay informed along with the manager. iii. The answer to avoiding autocracy, however, isn’t to be among the missing. Some well-intended leaders have left their teams alone without intervention when they saw them faltering. Other manager, in the name of industrial democracy, have bogged teams down by forcing them to participate in every little decision. “Let the team figure it out on their own,” or “I shouldn’t interfere,” may be something the distance manager says on occasion to help build their team build ownership, competence, or confidence, but it fails terribly as a regular management mantra. iv. Good distance managers strike a balance between autocracy and abdication. To assume that abdication is an acceptable role of leaders is to concede that there really is no need for distance managers at all. Although the role of the distance manager is not to be autocratic, it is to provide the vision, coaching, and support that is mentioned in the seven leadership competencies. If the choice comes down to autocracy or abdication, choose autocracy. It is much more difficult to fill the vacuum left by an abdicating leader than to repair the damage done by an autocratic but otherwise competent one. 2. “Purpose” the team well a. Don’t allow poor team start-ups i. Do a good face-to-face start up. I have to start off with some face-to-face time to create a bond and develop agreements on how we are going to work together. 3. Help everyone understand what each person does and needs from others a. Don’t allow unclear roles and responsibilities to confuse people i. Twice a year go through a simple but important discussion about twice a year. Identify the key assignments of each team member, collect expectations from everybody about how those assignments need to be performed, and identify cross-training requirements for everyone. ii. First, this helps clarify who is responsible for what, eliminating overlapping responsibilities and exposing gaps that need to be filled. Second, it does this in a way that is neither autocratic nor abdicating. As a leader I make sure the meeting happens and often play a major role in facilitating it. But the work expectations come from everyone, not just the leaders. Regardless of hierarchical position, everyone gets to say, “Here is what I need from you to get my work done.” 4. Get them the tools, time, and budget necessary to succeed a. Don’t starve teams of resources i. They need good communication systems. This requires a way for them to interact effectively with me and with each other electronically. 5. Install the systems, tools, protocols, and training for success a. Don’t forget to create both social and technical infrastructure What Employees Want from a Distance Manager Keep the associates informed. Send a weekly correspondence with key issues and facts in summary form. Share the problem, not the solution – as a way to empower others. If we share the solution only and ask associates to implement it then I am controlling the associates (by inferring blame and demanding that my idea be implemented) instead of the process (discussing my idea with others and focusing on the tools and techniques necessary for fixing the problem). Describe the problem and invite associates to give their ideas on developing a new work process that would solve it. Give associates a feeling of ownership and for implementing and maintaining their own solution to the problem. It’s easy to slip back into controlling the person instead of managing a series of steps necessary to accomplish the work. I should say “We need a better process,” instead of “Who made the mistake?” Thinking that workers need to be controlled often causes the distance leader to overcontrol through policies and procedures that can actually cause the problem the leader so assiduously wants to avoid. Associates often feel distrusted or inadequate if their work environment is based on hierarchically generated control. This affects their work negatively. When the associate feels overcontrolled by me, they tend to act in one of the following ways: 1. They become compliant and dependent on me 2. They resist the controls and find ways to play games to get around them 3. They become apathetic Associates want clarity, priorities, a sense of direction – they want the sort of coaching and facilitation that comes from someone who sees their job as supporting rather than directing the team. Associates make 10 requests of their leaders (not in any particular order): 1. Coordination rather than control a. How do I encourage self-control? By changing management paradigms from a control orientation to a commitment paradigm. Commitment Control Paradigm Paradigm Engenders Elicits compliance commitment Believes supervision Believes education is is necessary necessary Focuses on Focuses on hierarchy customers Bias for cross- Bias for functional functional organizations organizations Manages by policy Manages by principle Favors audit and Favors learning enforcement process processes Believes in selective Believes in open information sharing information sharing Believes bosses Believes workers should make should make decisions decisions Emphasis on means Emphasis on ends Encourages hard Encourages balanced work work/personal life Rewards conservative Rewards continuous improvement improvement Encourages Encourages thoughtful agreement disagreement This is a difficult tightrope to walk. Having too many policies, for example, is often perceived as unnecessary control, while having too few is seen as poor coordination. The key to proper balance is to stay well-connected to team members. If I hear things like, “We really feel like our hands are tied,” or, “You haven’t given us much choice here,” I’ve probably erred on the side of too much control. Under these conditions, team members generally will not accept ownership or accountability for their work (e.g., “I was just doing what you told me to do”). If I hear things like “We’re confused because of the inconsistency in how people do things,” I’ve probably erred on the side of not enough coordination. Under these conditions, productivity suffers. Being out of balance on either side (control or coordination) affects morale. 2. Accessibility rather than inaccessibility or omnipresence a. Associates want to know they can reach me when they need to. Give them my cell phone. Let them know when I am taking days off. 3. Information without overload a. Keep them informed but not inundated. The right balance of information is difficult to maintain. 4. Feedback instead of advice a. Associates appreciate receiving skillfully delivered information about how they are doing. “Paul, your clients let me know that they loved your least visit because you really took the time to listen to their concerns; they’d like to see that more often,” is better than, “Paul, you need to listen to your clients.” 5. Fairness over favoritism 6. Decisiveness but not intrusive supervision a. When a leadership decision needs to be made, make it. The most obvious example of this is disciplinary action. Resolve associate performance problems. 7. Honesty rather than manipulation a. Associates don’t want to be manipulated into false participation where the leader tries to get them to agree to their way of thinking. They also don’t want sugarcoating. They certainly don’t want things to be hidden from them. 8. Concern for their development over apathy a. Train and develop my team members. Associates are happiest when they believe they are being groomed not only for their current role and responsibilities but for future assignments as well. Team members expect that I will be concerned about getting them trained in three categories: i. Business training to better understand our process ii. Technical training to learn how to operate the technologies necessary for them to do their jobs iii. Interpersonal training to work more effectively with me and my team in areas such as effective problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution, and giving and receiving feedback. 9. Community building over mere coordinated isolation a. Get to know team members 10. Respect rather than paternalism or condescension a. Condescending behavior and paternalistic behavior send the same unintended message to the recipient: “You can’t take care of yourself so I’m going to take care of you.” Even in the best of circumstances this approach can create unhealthy dependence, lower self-esteem, and stunted self-initiative. Controlling processes and systems instead of associates enables the distance manager to empower associates. It is an approach that is more consistent with the commitment paradigm than the control paradigm and it helps the leader ensure that associates are productive whether or not the leader is present. If I hear statements similar to “That’s what I was told to do” or “”That’s what the SOP says” then the associate may not be taking accountability or ownership of their work. What this means to me is that there may be too much control. The associates may feel they are being controlled – this happens when they have a problem, they come to us, and we give them the answer. Instead of - they have a problem, they think through it, and they make a decision or come to us with the problem and their solution to it. What we need to have control of is our process or system – the main SOP, the associate spreadsheets, self-assessment spreadsheets and questions, QA spreadsheets and questions, and our smaller associate-specific SOPs. What we should not control is our people, our associates. We need to communicate that they have the freedom to make decisions about one-off situations. And, if they come to us with a problem they need to offer their solution to it. They shouldn’t be robots when doing their jobs. The Distance Coach: Getting Peak Performance Good coaching clarifies goals and measures, and entails lots of communication and associate involvement. Goals and measures are especially important to leaders who must coach from a distance. Metrics are almost like a virtual manager that keeps everyone focused on the most important priorities. They are always there, whether the coach is physically present or not. Coaching in virtual organizations consumes a significant amount of the distance leader’s time. Taking a proactive approach to coaching is one way to ease the complexity of distance coaching. Proactive coaching in combination with a technique called Socratic coaching and the use of effective accountability systems can pave the way for mutually satisfying coaching interventions. Building capability in individuals who are working virtually is one of the most important pieces of coaching a distance manager can do. An effective way to transfer capability is to ask questions instead of giving answers. This is Socratic coaching. Socratic coaching questions are intended to initiate learning and to help others learn through self-discovery. They are not, however, to be used as an inquisition or “game” such as “20 Questions.” The better questions focus on where information can be found or on teaching particular thinking processes that help group members make good decisions. Rather than asking questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “n,” as open-ended questions that invite further dialogue and get people thinking. If done well, Socratic coaching teaches, strengthens, and empowers. Good coaches coach before, during, and after the game. The coach who only addresses problems or accomplishments when they arise severely limits their ability to affect either the individual or the organization as a whole. I have to coach not just on negative performance, but on positive performance as well. Sample Socratic Coaching Questions: How will you know if you’re successful? How will you measure progress? What information will you need? What are the priorities? How will you work with other team members on this? What processes/tools will you use? Who will give input on the decisions? How much will this cost? What will be the impact on the budget? How will this affect quality? What other alternatives have you considered? How can I help? What went well in this project/activity? What are our key learnings from this project/activity? What recommendations would we make for future activities based on this experience? What things didn’t go as well as we had anticipated? How might we avoid similar problems in the future? Coaching Questions NOT to Ask: Yes/No questions o Do you have a plan? o Have you used data? Judgment questions o What in heaven’s name were you thinking? o Why did you do that? o Why didn’t you check with so and so? Abdication questions o What do you think you should do? Accountability Systems: More than simple delegation (where managers allocate responsibility only for selected projects or activities), shared accountability creates a feeling of real partnership. Good accountability systems create a feeling of clarity, purpose, and empowerment. They help everyone know who is responsible for what. They also enable people to learn from both their successes and their mistakes. The keys to accountability are: 1. Clarity a. What is the area of accountability? b. Who is responsible for it? c. Who will help them? d. How will they help? 2. Metrics a. What are the key measures? b. Who will track the measures? c. What will happen when measures are off-target? Groups that operate effectively in a virtual environment identify the major areas of business accountability for which specific individuals need to be responsible. Once the critical accountability categories are established, performance goals and metrics can be set. These should be: 1. Specific 2. Measurable a. Based on real business results used throughout the organization 3. Challenging a. Difficult enough that people feel motivated to “stretch” 4. Realistic a. Achievable enough that group members feel motivated to make an attempt Although I can never abandon my own personal accountability for team results, performance of the entire group improves when individuals accept leadership for key result areas in addition to their normal responsibilities. An Accountability Matrix: Who is accountable Who has What What are for the area? secondary should be What our goals for (Consider accountability? expected developmental this area? individual Who should of all team needs are Specific expertise, begin to members required for Measurable immediate prepare for to achieve the team? For Area of Challenging needs, and future these those Accountability Realistic future goals) accountability? goals? accountable? Follow SOP / Complete checklist / One-off situations - think Productivity 7 LPD Jim Phil about solution before asking Self- Assessment 93.00% Jim Phil QA Workout 93.00% Jim Phil Script Integrity 98.00% Jim Phil Training Jim Phil Scheduling Aman Robert Other Tips for Distance Coaching 1. Respond to subtleties and nuances. I need to have constant vigilance and watch for clues that will tell me when to step in and coach. Early intervention is important. 2. Implement a peer feedback process. Unless a formal system for doing so is provided and giving feedback is an established norm within the group, peers are often reluctant to raise issues regarding one another’s performance. 3. Establish one-on-one coaching sessions with each associate. These sessions allow me to stay up-to-date on projects, keep informed on issues and problems, and strengthen and maintain good relationships with associates. 4. Use a structured improvement plan. When performance issues warrant it , request that the associate put together a performance improvement plan that they will commit to. Be clear about expectations and set boundaries for what needs to be included in the plan, but keep responsibility for success with the individual. Distance Team Building: Practical Tips for Building Effective Teams Working virtually requires the team leader to give equal time and attention to team dynamics and task accomplishment. In other words, balancing tasks and process. This is a good chapter to review if I am part of a new team that is being created for a new project. Distance Training: Building Skills in Remote Sites Web Training Tips: 1. Limit Web-based training sessions to two hours or less. 2. Where possible, use a combination of remote training and face-to-face sessions. 3. Stay focused on results, not activities. In other words, don’t do training for training’s sake. Make sure the training provided is linked to organization goals or the professional development goals of participants 4. Take into consideration the environment in which the individuals will be located. This is resolved through good planning – letting each individual know what the process will be, how long it will take, and what preparations need to be undertaken to ensure that learning can occur. 5. Assess the needs of my team to assure that the appropriate topics and methods of delivery are used. Remember that different people learn in different ways. 6. Try to simulate face-to-face training as much as possible. Use polling – ask participants to periodically respond to questions during a presentation to keep them involved and engaged. Have associates email questions to me that I will respond to shortly. Continuous improvement, at both the organization and he individual level, is a prerequisite for success. This requires that I be vigilant about ensuring that ongoing training is available for those in their organization. Building Trust from a Distance The extraordinary performer gives full effort regardless of whether the boss is watching. They are self-motivated, and worry about work issues whether they are on the clock or not. They are perpetually trying to improve work processes and relationships. Many people give special effort only when they feel trusted and supported, and conversely, when they trust and respect their leader. Tips for developing trust: 1. Communicate openly and frequently. a. Don’t make associates guess what I’m thinking. Tell them. 2. To get trust, give trust. a. The best way to create an environment of trust is to begin by trusting others. Leaders set the example. Waiting to give trust to associates until they earn it is never as effective as assuming they are trustworthy unless they prove otherwise. 3. Be honest. a. Leaders who demonstrate openness about their actions, intentions, and vision soon find that people respond positively to self-disclosure and sincerity. Share good news and bad news openly. 4. Establish strong business ethics. a. Business ethics is about setting moral values for the workplace. 5. Do what I say I will do, and make my actions visible. a. Visibly keeping commitments increases trust. It doesn’t take long for team members to pick up on insincere rhetoric or broken promises. 6. Make sure that my interactions with the team are consistent and predictable. a. The process of building trust is not an event – it’s a process. Trust results from consistent and predictable interaction over time. If team members see a leader respond one way this week and another way next week, it becomes harder and harder to trust him or her. 7. From the outset, set the tone for future interaction. a. The initial actions of the leader set the tone and establish norms that can either build trust or detract from establishing trust within the team. 8. Be accessible and responsive. a. Find ways to make myself regularly available to team members. b. Be action-oriented. Instead of saying, “let’s think about it,” say, “let’s do this and that.” And then do it. c. When associates contact me by email, respond within 24 hours. 9. Maintain confidences. a. Team members need to be able to express concerns, identify problems, share sensitive information, and surface relevant issues. 10. Watch my language. a. In subtle ways a leader can unintentionally erode trust among their associates. Working from Jacksonville and referring to associates in Pune as “them” may send an unintended message. 11. Create social time for the team. a. At either the beginning or the end of a call or meeting, lead the way with informal conversation, asking about team members’ outside interests, etc. Leading by example is undoubtedly t he most powerful tool I have for building trust. Leading People Who Don’t Report to Me 1. Use persuasion and influence instead of commands. a. I must first establish credibility. Credibility is a function not only of expertise but also of the relationship one establishes with the person they are trying to persuade. Technical competence alone will not establish credibility if I don’t have the skills necessary to create a good relationship. The world is full of people who are technically competent but who get passed over for key assignments because they aren’t skilled in developing relationships. b. Being polite, employing good listening skills, and showing that I genuinely respect the other person and their work will go a long way in establishing the credibility that facilitates persuasion – whether or not the person I am trying to persuade reports to me. 2. Use facts and data. a. The most effective kind of power is information power rather than position power. Having facts and data on my side is much more compelling than hierarchical clout. b. Numerical data, historical evidence, research, and real examples are all more convincing than orders based on title or position. 3. Respect the expertise of all team members. a. Find ways to involve other people as a way to tap into their expertise and experience. Asking for their participation is the highest form of respect. 4. Establish common ground. a. Acknowledge differences, work to find the widest common ground, then stick to the task at hand. 5. Maintain confidentiality. a. Knowing that personal concerns or issues will be handled respectfully, helps forge stronger, more productive relationships. 6. Exercise conscientiousness and integrity. Conscientiousness Integrity 1. High achievement orientation 1. Honest actions, words, and emotions 2. Self-starting 2. Consistent behavior 3. Takes initiative 3. Doesn't compromise values 4. Has focused objectives 4. Clearly articulates values 5. Proactive 5. Actions aligned with values 6. Believes that they can make a difference 6. Honest with self 7. Deals with problems 7. Nonmanipulative 8. Doesn't make excuses 8. Dependable 9. Results-oriented 9. Trustworthy 10. Improvement bias 10. Has honor in the workplace 11. Doesn't blame others 11. Has honor out of the workplace Interestingly, both conscientiousness and integrity are required to correlate to positive results. A conscientious leader without integrity may be more focused on the good of their project or career than on important organizational values. Conversely, the nonconscientious leader with integrity may have tremendous values and vision but create very little progress toward accomplishing them. The Necessity of Face-to-Face Meetings Social interaction is really important – I can’t eliminate it – I can’t do everything virtually. The challenge is to interact rapidly and effectively. Xerox has created a nine-step model for developing effective virtual teams: 1. Form the team 2. Communicate the vision 3. Develop a mission statement 4. Define goals 5. Develop norms 6. Develop roles 7. Develop meeting processes 8. Develop communication processes 9. Develop work processes Xerox illustrates the model in a stairstep format: 9. Develop work processes 8. Develop communication processes 7. Develop meeting processes 6. Develop roles 5. Develop norms 4. Define goals 3. Develop a mission statement 2. Communicate the vision 1. Form the team Face-to-face meetings are appropriate: 1. When I need the richest nonverbal cues, including body, voice, proximity 2. When the issues are especially sensitive 3. When the people don’t know one another 4. When establishing group rapport and relationships are crucial 5. When participants can be in the same place at the same time Kickoff meeting: Effective teams almost universally attribute at least part of their success to getting off to a good start. Sitting together face-to-face to define the team’s charter, set goals, establish operating guidelines, describe communication preferences, and review boundaries helps a group to coalesce and begin establishing trust. Milepost meetings: Keeping virtual team members focused and coordinated can be difficult. But meeting on a regular basis can greatly improve such efforts. This should be once a quarter. These situations require face-to-face time: Performance reviews Other performance discussions Conflict resolution Celebrating from a Distance 1. Celebrate both the team and individual accomplishments. a. Recognize and celebrate both 2. Celebrate mileposts. a. Don’t limit celebrations to the big finish (or month-end). This is critical to keep motivation and morale high. 3. Include face-to-face celebrations. 4. Hold an annual or semiannual goal achievement review activity. a. This gives the group an opportunity to examine their achievements and to refocus on their goals. 5. Respect personal preferences when deciding how to celebrate. 6. Create a place on our sharepoint for posting best practices and learnings. a. This is what Xerox and other companies do on a regular basis. The opportunity to share your learnings or have your process or approach posted as a best practice is a subtle but effective way to celebrate accomplishments. Not only does the team or individual receive recognition, but team members are able to learn from one another as well. 7. Celebrate the “small” stuff. a. Birthdays b. Anniversaries c. Weddings d. Child births e. Knowing about each other’s achievements, however small, helps build camaraderie and respect. 8. Include others in the celebration, whether electronically or face-to-face. a. For instance, when sending an e-mail acknowledgement of an individual’s or team’s accomplishment, copy senior managers or the entire team. 9. Invest personal time to make celebrations and recognition more meaningful. a. Send written notes 10. Ask the team members how they would like to celebrate. a. Associates probably have some great ideas about how they would like to celebrate a milestone. The Distance Manager’s Guide to Efficient Teleconferences Virtual meetings require that I be more organized than normal. I have to have my act together: I have to think about meeting preparation more than usual. 1. Get organized. a. Teleconferences can’t be conducted “on the fly” or without considerable forethought and planning. b. Have an agenda and send it out to all teleconferencing participants in advance of the call. 2. Assign meeting roles. a. Assign each participant a role to play throughout the session. b. Rotate the meeting roles so that these types of responsibilities are shared: i. Scribe. The scribe keeps notes for the meeting and distributes them afterward. They pay special attention to key decisions made, important information shared, and action items that need to be followed up on. ii. Gatekeeper. The gatekeeper watches the gate of participation and opens it to those who haven’t participated much, while closing it to those who have had a disproportionate amount of talk time. iii. Leader. The leader organizes the meeting and facilitates it. Typically the leader keeps the group on track by assuring that the most important parts of the agendas are covered in the allotted time. iv. Participant. 3. Use people’s names. a. Set the guideline that each individual identifies themselves each time they speak. Likewise, when responding to someone else’s comment or question, use their name. this degree of discipline will keep the meeting clear and on track. b. Follow an unintroduced statement with something like, “For the benefit of those of you who couldn’t recognize her voice, that was Mary,” or, “That comment was from Pete.” 4. Remember silence is not consent. a. Check with each individual when decisions are made, to determine whether they are in agreement and will support the implementation and outcome of the decision. Without visual simulation to keep participants engaged and alert, it is easy to check out or to abdicate ownership for decisions the group solves. Make sure that every person voices their concerns before closing on a decision. 5. Be especially careful about background sounds over the phone. Managing by E-mail – without Letting It Take Over Your Life 1. Have a “no-scrolling” rule. a. Written text should not be more than one screen. 2. Avoid group replies. 3. Keep group lists up to date. 4. Don’t leave everyone’s attachments or full dialogue on e-mail replies. a. Don’t just add comments and then send it unmodified. Quote only the portions from previous messages that have relevance. If the attachment is no longer useful, delete it. 5. Check e-mail regularly. 6. Use the description line well. a. This allows people to determine the urgency and relevance of an e-mail. 7. Use automatic replies when necessary. a. When on vacation or other times when I can’t reply to e-mails for awhile. 8. Establish electronic communication protocols as a team. a. Have associates include specific information so I can make a decision quickly. i. For example, approving >=85% forbearance – include screen shot of original LM999 ii. Specific format when sending Exceptions 1. Date script run / date scored from self-assessment / date of 3rd TPP 9. Keep my inbox lean. a. Use folders to organize my email and keep the in-box small enough that I can scan it quickly for important messages b. Color code emails from messages from AVP and above. 10. Never write something that is private or confidential on e-mail. 11. Educate the team on appropriate and inappropriate use of e-mail. a. A Fortune 500 company was ordered to pay $2.2 million to four plaintiffs in a sexual harassment suit based in part on an email message that circulated about “why beer is better than women.” 12. Be careful of putting emotional content into e-mail. a. If I am feeling angry or frustrated when writing an email, send it to myself first. Don’t read it until the next day. If I read it later and it seems OK, then send it. Otherwise start over. Using Web Tools: Effective Shared Workplaces and Files 1. Use teamware (Sharepoint). 2. Train associates how to work together in shared applications 3. Do regular backups. 4. Establish protocols. a. The most current version of a file is the “football” – who has the football today? b. What will we name the files? c. Who can edit shared files? 5. Don’t use confusing file names. a. Don’t use “latest” in a file name – use a date. Effective distance managers know how to manage projects. Project team members need an understanding of the project expectations including the “big three:” 1. Cost 2. Scope 3. Schedule A good plan for achieving them with objectives and mileposts, clearly defined responsibilities (who will do what by when), and lots of communication to deal with the inevitable setbacks, coordination problems, and revisions. The Leadership Factor: 1. Be accessible. 2. Eliminate blaming. a. Assume good intentions on the part of associates, then coach to improve actions, outcomes, processes, or procedures in a supportive and collegial way. 3. Create a learning environment. a. Effective knowledge transfer is essential to virtual teams, but it is very difficult to facilitate from a distance. 4. Create personal development opportunities. 5. Manage work/life balance issues. Have quarterly face-to-face meetings.