Here's What Scares Remote Employees
One of the biggest fears remote employees have is “am I out of sight, out of mind?” Put another way, “because I’m remote, will they forget about me, will I stop getting cool assignments, will I lose out on learning and growth opportunities?”
If your boss doesn’t see you on a regular basis, it’s only natural to wonder if they’re actively thinking about you. After all, you might think, they could see lots of employees every day and have all sorts of great lunches and water cooler conversations. And if you were the boss, and had to choose someone for your next wickedly cool assignment with terrific growth opportunities, mightn’t you be more likely to choose the person with whom you share a daily coffee?
These are the kinds of thoughts that often rattle around the minds of remote employees. And if you manage remote employees, one of your big challenges is keeping them feeling like they’re still growing and developing, even though they’re remote. So how do you accomplish that?
Simple; every month, you need to have a 4-part conversation with remote employees (you can do it over the phone or video conference). It’s a conversation designed to both keep remote employees growing, and, to help remote employees recognize that they’re still growing and developing. (And yes, ‘actually’ growing and ‘recognizing’ that you’re growing are two distinct issues).
First, you ask the remote employee “what things would you like to get better at this next month?” Of course, this helps you understand the areas where they’d like to grow and develop. But it also tells the remote employee that “you’re important, and I care about seeing you grow and develop.” It sends a clear message that you, as their leader, haven’t forgotten about them; in fact, you’re heavily invested in helping them realize their potential.
Second, you ask them “what things are you better at this month than you were last month?” This helps them see that even though they’re remote, there are, in fact, lots of interesting growth opportunities all around them. And it shows them that they’ve been growing and developing (employees always feel more engaged when they feel like they’re growing, and not sitting stagnant).
Third, you ask them about their professional highlights this past month, and fourth, their professional lowlights. These two issues identify their key motivators and demotivators, and the answers give you a map of how to harness the remote employee’s full motivational potential.
Put together, these four questions drive a conversation that shows deep caring for remote employees. And it also reveals those employees’ aspirations, achievements, and underlying motivations. Not only does this conversation build a bond between leader and remote employee, it’s more revelatory than any employee survey you could undertake.
The other bonus with this conversation is that it doesn’t take that long; maybe 15-30 minutes. And the more you establish this conversation as a monthly routine, the easier it becomes.
One final note: You don’t have to limit this conversation to your remote employees. Yes, it does address a major concern of remote employees. But let’s face it, during these past few years, many employees (remote or otherwise) have felt stagnant in their professional growth and development. So a simple conversation with all your folks will show you exactly how and where they want to grow.
Mark Murphy is the founder of Leadership IQ, keynote speaker, leadership researcher, and developer of the online “Science of Leadership Academy.” Mark is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller “Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your People to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More.” And his prior book,“Hiring for Attitude,” was chosen as a top business book by CNBC.