Remote Employees: Managing and Being Managed
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Given the geographic breadth of most retail chains, it’s common for retail dietitians to work in a remote location from their boss. It’s essential in this situation for both the manager and the employee to manage communications effectively in order to ensure goals, objectives, and expectations on both sides of the equation are met.
Communication Tips for the Remote Manager
- It’s up to you to set the ground rules for how interactions will take place. Do you prefer weekly or bi-weekly statuses with your remote team members? What status information do you prefer in writing and how often would you like written statuses?
- Create “water cooler” moments. With your staff who work in the same office as you, it’s easy to chat about weekend plans, the latest snow storm, and funny kid stories. With remote staff, you need to create these moments in order to know each employee as the complete person he/she is and to build rapport. Make an effort to make spontaneous calls to remote team members to just chat.
- For communicate with remote staff, use video options such as Skype or Google Hangouts as frequently as possible. So much communication is non-verbal making seeing the individual essential for effective transfer of all information.
- Meet face-to-face at least once a year.
- Because you’re in the corporate office location, you hear company news in passing hallway conversations, at the beginning or tail end of meetings, or over lunch with coworkers. It’s important to share this information with remote team members to ensure they feel a true part of the company.
Communication Tips for the Remote Employee
- Regular status meetings (weekly or every two weeks) are essential to stay visible with your boss, manage his/her expectations, and keep him/her aware of project obstacles. Put these meetings on both your calendars, and avoid canceling them. Send your manager an agenda for each meeting, so he/she can be prepared for the meeting.
- During these meetings, provide updates on big projects and big deliverables, the top 3-5 things that you’ve spent your time on over the past two weeks, and your areas of focus for the upcoming two weeks. This ensures you both stay aligned with goals and priorities.
- About once a quarter, ask for performance feedback during your regular statuses. This ensures there are no surprises come review time.
- At least annual, discuss career pathing with your supervisor. Even though you are a remote employee, ensure your manager knows that career progression is important to you.
- Provide email updates to your manager where appropriate. There may be information you want to share in writing that you know your boss will want to forward upward in the chain of command. This might include ROI data, feedback from a satisfied buyer/merchant or community partner, or a summary of a significant “win.” Use a format, such as bullet points, that make it easy for your manager to read.