You own or operate a business that’s growing rapidly. You have a team of employees who work at the home office, contributing to that growth. You’re increasingly being called away to travel, and you often feel left out of the team’s conversations and ideas since you’re just not around much. Video conference is one of the best ways to do that.
Video Conference the Way to be in Touch with your Team
Does this Scenario Sound Familiar?
For many entrepreneurs, travel is unavoidable. But it can be incredibly difficult to maintain a strong leadership position, and close-knit communication with employees when you’re elsewhere during work hours. Luckily, technology can help you retain solid relationships from afar, but it’s also not a magical salve that fixes everything. However, there are some tactics you can try, coupled with technology, to stay close to your team no matter how many miles separate you.
Eyes and Ears at Home
If you’re the CEO or founder of your company, you might feel like you’re largely flying solo anyway. But you should never be the only person in a leadership role, especially if you’re gone frequently. If you have a counterpart or a senior leader in the business that you trust, establish regular phone calls to check in and get in-depth feedback about what’s happening in the office. If you need to make serious leadership decisions while away, you should be able to loop this person in and hand over some of those in-person tasks when needed.
Furthermore, make it easy for your entire staff to be your eyes and ears at home. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to get everyone a specific cell phone (and possibly compensate them for their cell plan too) to make communication a breeze. A phone like the Apple iPhone SE could be a good choice since it’s affordable and small but has just as advanced of a chip as the iPhone 6s. Whatever phone (and phone plan) you choose, make sure that communication through video conference, calling and texting can be made a priority.
Another great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business, and stay top of mind to your team, is by using a messaging platform to collaborate. There are many great options out there, but Slack is one of the most intuitive. You can keep sensitive conversations close to the vest by designating private channels and inviting just a few trustworthy folks to them, and then you can also create open channels based on who’s working on certain clients or projects.
Using a system like this, in which you can send messages (and keep a record of them), make calls and collaborate all within one central hub can go a long way in strengthening the bond between you and your employees, as well as streamlining the work you do together.
Give Them a Break
One study found that nearly half of companies surveyed attribute up to 50 percent of workforce churn to employee burnout. Just because you’re traveling and not able to directly see the hard work that’s being put in at home doesn’t mean your team isn’t working just as hard as you are. Even if you’re not in the office, you can do a lot to boost morale by giving a generous vacation package, honoring many holidays by giving days off and being sure to check in periodically with your team members, face-to-face, when you are home. You might not be able to spend a lot of time with each person, but if you make it high-quality and put an emphasis on gauging their stress load and job satisfaction, you can improve retention and fortify your relationships.
If one of your sales ladies has been performing at an incredibly high level, for instance, don’t assume that she’s bulletproof. Check in with her, and if she seems to be nearing burnout, do something proactive like offering her a day off (paid) with a gift card to a nearby spa. This is just one idea, but the point is to get creative and be sure you’re giving your team regular breaks and opportunities for rejuvenation.
It’s never easy being a remote leader, but it doesn’t have to mean that your relationships or leading ability are sacrificed in the process. Some intentionality, helpful technology, and human care can go a really long way.