5 Success Strategies for Managing a Mobile Workforce
December 8, 2015
Check out these recent research statistics…
- Number of virtual workers has increased 800 percent in the past 5 years
- 60-70 percent of employees work in locations different from their supervisors
So what does this mean for your business? Most likely some of your workers are already telecommuting, working virtually, or will be in the next 2-3 years. There are both benefits and challenges to businesses as they move towards this new world of work. Be sure to discuss, analyze, and plan out the following strategies to be successful at transitioning to a mobile workforce.
1. Keep Communication Simple, Clear and Focused on the Relationship
When managing a mobile workforce prioritize communication and the amount of information distributed. Mobile workers tend to get overburdened by too much communication that isn’t necessary. A good rule of thumb is that usually less is more.
Informally, you should be using a variety of technology to stay in touch on a regular basis (instant messaging, texting, twitter, email, etc.) Focus on providing quick tidbits of information about the happenings in the home office, stories from the field, and humorous antidotes to help the mobile worker feel included. If you don’t focus on the developing and managing the relationship with your mobile worker, it WILL affect performance results in the long term.
Save detailed communications and phone calls for important information that you deliver to the mobile worker all at once. Let your mobile worker define a plan with you on communication and “reporting in” that you both feel comfortable with.
2. Let Go of Controlling the Details and Focus on the End Results Desired
Trusting the mobile worker to hold themselves accountable for agreed upon deliverables is absolutely paramount. It is impossible to micro-manage a mobile worker and if you try to, I can guarantee it won’t work. The best strategy is to identify key deliverables for a project up front, agree to check in points, communication expectations, and deliverable expectations. Also, discuss the consequences of not meeting deliverables on time and as expected.
Trust in the process that you have established and LET GO.
3. Have Frequent Discussion on Expectations and Performance Results
You will quickly learn that spending more time discussing and agreeing on expectations will not only build a open, trusting relationship with a mobile worker, but will also help you achieve your desired results. Be sure to establish informal opportunities to talk with your mobile worker about their performance and career goals as a way to stay connected, show interest in their personal growth and development, and strengthen the relationship.
4. Listen and Trust More
It is VERY EASY to take a hands off approach when managing a mobile worker. This almost always is not the best strategy. Building a strong, trusting relationship with your mobile worker will serve you best in the long run. In order to do this, make listening a priority when communicating with your mobile worker. Tune into what they are thinking and feeling about a project, ask open ended questions to generate innovative conversations, provide them opportunities to present new ideas and solutions.
Effective listening goes a long way in building trust. More importantly however is giving complete trust to your mobile worker that they will do what they say they will do unless you have been given a good reason not to do so. In several HR surveys, trust has been identified as one of the most important factors in successfully managing a virtual team.
5. Have the Right Technology to Support You
Technology is what will make or break the communication and relationship that you have with your mobile worker. Having technology that allows you to collaborate “real time” with your mobile workforce is essential. Using a variety of technology including web conferencing, collaboration software, and blogs are just a few of the options that should be considered when managing a mobile workforce. Prioritize what technology is needed to collaborate with your virtual team and ensure that everyone can be on the same page at the same time.