Business Advice Blog

How to Manage Your Mobile Workforce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American workforce is changing the nature of “work” as we once knew it. The days when employees absolutely had to work at a desk, in an office, are long gone. While many businesses still insist on keeping their workforce on-site, more than 30 percent of Americans work remotely during some or most of the work-week.

It’s time for more companies to recognize that advances in technology have made it possible for employees to do their jobs—for the most part—anywhere in the world. These digital improvements are now at a point, notes Biz Tech, where “geography is—or, at least, can be—a nearly irrelevant factor in an employee’s work experience and productivity.”

This has also altered job-seekers’ expectations of flexibility in their employer’s approach as to how work gets done. Companies that fail to account for this shift in attitude may find it more difficult to recruit—and then adequately manage—their budding remote workforce.

Here are tips for managing your off-site, mobile team:

Understand what makes them tick. The most successful remote workers consider themselves self-starters. They have a clear idea of their job responsibilities, what’s expected of them, how they will get their tasks completed, and so on. They also expect to be given the most sophisticated tools and resources needed to meet their job responsibilities. Perhaps just as importantly, they want to feel good about the company they work for.

By getting to know these individuals and grasping their underlying motivations, “you’ll find that it is very easy to extract the best performance possible.”

Focus on communications. The most effective way to keep remote workers engaged is through focusing on consistent, high-quality communications.  Establish a schedule that works for all involved but emphasizes ongoing contact (once or twice a week for updates, twice a month for in-depth reports, etc.).

Digital portals enable both the worker and his or her manager to see at a glance where projects stand, approaching deadlines and other pertinent information. Leverage such technology to ensure that key responsibilities are being met, but also to determine if off-site hurdles are preventing completion of tasks.

Be available. Let your mobile workers understand that you’re available to talk to (by whatever medium) at a short notice. And when you do speak with these individuals, give them your full attention. Treating them as less-than-full members of the team can negatively impact their motivation and ultimate performance. With today’s technology, you can always have a genuine interaction with your off-site staff.

Offer incentives just as you would with your onsite team. Remote workers respond just as favorably to rewards and other incentives as your in-house employees. Whether it’s formal recognition for a job well done—which also alerts everyone in the company of the high value you place on your mobile team—or providing gift certificates or other rewards, your remote workers will greatly appreciate that you took the time and effort to recognize their contributions.

Provide opportunities for professional development. If you currently provide tuition or otherwise sponsor professional development courses for your onsite workforce, there’s no reason to deny these opportunities to remote workers. They’ll benefit just as much from the chance to hone their skills and broaden the range of their expertise—and your business will benefit, too. Offering such opportunities keeps these people engaged with your business and less likely to turn elsewhere for employment.

Remote workers are increasingly becoming an essential facet of today’s workforce. To get the most from them, it’s important to manage their work with sensitivity and respect, while also ensuring they have what they need to achieve maximum productivity. Your business will be more successful as a result.

To learn more about fully engaging your workforce, we invite you to register for this free TAB webinar, “Grooming Engaged, Entrepreneurial Employees.”

 

CEOs Save Time by Learning to Say “No”

Learn to Say No!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times in a day do people approach you or your gatekeeper with a request, suggestion or some other time-consuming appeal? Like many other business leaders, your first inclination may be to say, “OK,” or “Yes, I’ll look into that.” You want to help others or find ways to move a process along with your input.

But the reality is, by rarely or never saying, “No,” you waste a significant amount of your precious (and finite) time. When you “prioritize [another] person’s needs over your own,” says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount.”

Saying “no” comes naturally to some, but if it’s an issue that continues to interrupt your daily work pattern—and negatively impacts your company’s efficiency—here are tips to get more comfortable with this answer.

Be polite, but firm. Rather than agreeing to a request, let the other person know what they’re asking for just isn’t possible at this (or, maybe, any other) time.

Don’t make excuses or give the impression you’ll get to it “soon.” Instead, politely but firmly say, “I’m sorry, but my schedule is full and I can’t assist you with this request.” If possible, direct them to someone else who may be able to help.

Provide context for your answer. People who ask for your assistance may think twice the next time if you provide a fuller explanation as to why “no” is now your default answer.

Business leader Kathy Bloomgarden advises CEOs to “take a step back and provide your rationale in the context of the company’s goals and priorities” as well as its relation to the market in general. “Leverage each discussion as an opportunity to strengthen the vision of where the whole team is going” and what’s needed to get there.

Say “no” to ideas that don’t fit your company’s strategic plan. People inside and beyond your company walls are likely bombarding you all the time with “great” ideas about how to improve business and acquire new customers.

Some ideas may be worth pursuing—in which case, the best response is to direct the person towards someone else in the company who’s better positioned to explore the idea further. At the same time, if you foresee that pursuing that idea might take time and resources your business can’t afford, it’s best to say no at the outset (with a brief explanation as to why). It all comes down to whether the next great idea genuinely fits within the parameters of where you see the business going in the coming months and years.

Be prepared to say “no” to a client. Of course, a client is the last person to whom you want to use “no” as an answer. But there may come a time when what they want from your company simply doesn’t fit with your existing resources or strategic objectives. Or they may ask for some sort of “exclusive arrangement” by which you can’t reach out to other prospective clients.

In such cases, it’s usually best to turn down the request in a forthright, respectful manner. Alternatively, notes financial adviser Andrew Schrage, you can “restate the problem” and “focus on the things you are able to do, rather than the ones you aren’t.” This way, it’s possible to say “no” to the client and yet retain their loyalty and gratitude.

Saying “no” doesn’t have to entail negative or unpleasant associations. It can pave the way towards greater efficiency (for the CEO) and motivation to take action on their own (on the part of senior executives and employees). It reinforces the idea that the CEO or business leader must prioritize their time in pursuit of strategic growth.

Want more great ideas on how to manage your time? Gain instant access to a video explaining “The 15 Golden Rules of Time Management.”