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Remote Leadership: Working for a Virtual Boss

Tags:  Management, Working alone, Productivity, Working virtually

According to the dictionary, remote has several meanings including the concept of operating from a distance, as with a remote control, which is exactly the idea behind working virtually. Business gets handled regardless of location.


The second complimentary meaning is to be aloof, distant, removed, which is what can sometimes happen when you do not get or give enough face time with your boss. That's why it is important that employers and employees alike consider the impact of working virtually and come to an agreement on how to manage remote work and workers in order to remain aligned with company goals.


While some might place the bulk of the responsibility for making this relationship work on either one of the parties involved, the boss and the employee are equally responsible for its success.  


So whether you are in the leadership or the subordinate role, choose now to make it successful by following these four tips on how to be a STAR in the virtual work world:


Share. Make a personal connection. Focus on building this relationship. Just because you don't see each other everyday, don't lose contact. That old adage is true: out of sight, out of mind. Make sure to provide input and feedback about how things are going as well as your successes, failures, accomplishments, and concerns. Provide your boss with regular written updates about what you have done and what you are doing – goals you have met and projects you have completed.


Talk. Email and instant messaging have made business communication lightening fast, but they can never convey how you really feel the way a phone or face-to-face conversation can. Be sure to make time to attend meetings, go to lunch, and stay in the spotlight. Whether you are the boss or the subordinate, when your first thought is to send an email, consider calling instead. Plan your call according to when it will be easiest to reach the other person by phone – in the car on the way to work, for instance.


Anticipate. Take the initiative and do more than is asked. This doesn't mean you need to take on the workload of others; however, it is important that your boss knows you are pulling your weight. Anticipate what your employee might need and anticipate what your boss might want. Think ahead and plan. Make sure your employee has all the tools he needs to do the job right. Make sure your boss has all the information he needs to do the right job.


Recognize. Don't forget to say 'thank you.' Realize how hard your boss or employee works and recognize them for their effort. Also recognize that it's up to both of you to make this work and when there are problems or time to reassess the arrangement.


Remember just like any relationship, this one is a two-way street. The success or failure falls squarely on the shoulders of both parties.

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