Coaching an “Old School” Senior Manager on the Benefits of Virtual Workers

Do you have a Senior Leader that refuses to acknowledge or allow people to work from home like Yahoo’s CEO recently did? If so, is there a way to coach them to “see the light?” Maybe and maybe not.

A sensible Step 1 to change their opinion is to share the very real and quantifiable benefits of Virtual Work. After all, the clear evidence about the benefits of telecommuting is very compelling.

When organizations look to the future, the most innovative and successful leaders realize the potential that virtual workforces have to change the face of business. Increasingly, leadership and organizations are viewing “work” as something you do, rather than somewhere you go. As organizations expand across the nation and the globe, remote labor forces are becoming vital to business success. Currently, 82 percent of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” already have virtual work policies. That number is expected to rise as time and technology advance.

Fully 81 percent of people that have worked remotely report that they were more productive at home than working in a “traditional” workplace environment.

Each year, the population of virtual workers grows, and observing this pattern contributes to the belief that virtual workforces are here to stay. The trend toward virtual work is, in fact, gaining such a hold in the workplace that colleges and universities are beginning to introduce programs dedicated solely to best practices for virtual work. To remain up to par in this increasingly distanced world, managers must consider the increasing demand and necessity for a virtual workforce.

Remote workforces help maintain an organization’s competitive advantage. Distance employees contribute to higher profits, larger market shares, and an ambitious edge. Prior to incorporating remote workers into your organization, it is imperative managers understand every facet of the virtual workforce in order to establish the most successful virtual teams.

Step 2 is to assess whether the real issue with the non-believing Senior Leader is TRUST.

Terrific “NEW SCHOOL” virtual managers don’t beat around the bush when it comes to the trust issue; they tackle it boldly and directly by doing one simple thing: They let go. Extraordinary virtual managers know that in order to let go and fully trust their employees, they must be very scrutinizing and careful during the talent selection process. By hiring only people they innately trust from the get-go, managers are able to start out on the right foot with new hires, and support their autonomy. If working virtually is only a privilege for tenured employees, managers should choose their most trustworthy employees to work from home.

Virtual managers who cannot let go and continue to micro-manage, annoyingly checking in or checking up on their remote employees, will damage trust at their organization, and they have no one to blame but themselves. They should turn the reflective mirror back on themselves and realize that they don’t have a trust issue; they have a hiring and talent acquisition problem. Simply put, they hired the wrong person. If, ultimately, a virtual manager cannot hire the right people and then trust them, then maybe that manager is in the wrong position. This manager’s manager needs to re-cast this person into a different role that does not have virtual direct reports.

By : Kevin Sheridan – HumanResourcesIQ


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