By Stephanie Monge-Sherman
Coaching as a management skill has been a hot topic for years with thousands of blogs, books, and courses offered on the topic. To add to this complexity is the equally challenging task of managing a remote workforce, which by necessity or choice, more and more companies are deciding to do. It’s understandable that many leaders who are new to this likewise relatively novel practice may need some clear and concise suggestions to help them navigate their way through coaching a remote workforce.
In coaching, effective communication is a requirement and is arguably the most important tool a leader can possess. That’s why Part One of this two-part series is going to focus solely on tips to facilitate better communication. In part two, we’ll broaden our focus and dive into more generalized, but equally important remote coaching strategies.
6 Tips for Impactful Coaching Communication With Your Remote Workforce
1. Simple and Clear. With the abundant amount of information people are receiving at this time, make sure your message/ask/ information is clear, to the point and uses simple language. It is beneficial to highlight action items or tasks needing to be accomplished.
2. Frequent. No longer are you able to physically observe your team and where they are from a productivity standpoint, and, importantly, from a psychological safety perspective. Frequent communication and check-ins are highly recommended. At a minimum, aim for one, one-on-one call with your team per week, and additionally, one to three team huddle conference calls weekly. The duration of these meetings or check-ins should be quick but not rushed, and everyone should contribute and have a voice.
3. Honest. You are your employees’ connection to everything happening with the company, so make sure you share what you can and help to foster an environment of transparency. You don’t have to sugarcoat the messages: be informative, truthful and concise.
4. Use visual chat tools. Make sure to have one-on-ones via video (where possible) to connect and provide virtual face-to-face contact, as it allows you to get non-verbal cues from your team members. If not possible, phone calls should be chosen over emails or instant messaging, and allow for an adequate amount of time to complete the call. An ideal amount of time is one hour per team member/week, minimum.
5. Listen. Your team will be more motivated to share and open up if they feel heard. Listen to what your team is saying to you and to each other. Leverage three-way communication to ensure you are truly understanding what they are saying. This tactic assists with understanding your team members’ feelings and intentions. How do you know if you are really tuning in to your team’s concerns and opinions? During each communication, you should be listening more then you are speaking.
6. Be Present. Give your team the attention they deserve and be available for them to contact you. Don’t multitask while you are having conversations with your team and ensure there are no distractions taking your attention away from the conversation.
Although these six tips may not be revolutionary ideas, they do act as great reminders for how we can better coach our team and communicate as leaders with our remote workforce.
See Part Two