Bartleby - How to lead from afar
巴托比 - 如何遠程領導
New and old skills will be needed.
When office workers were sent home in the spring of 2020, managers suddenly faced a new challenge: how to supervise teams that were working remotely.
While employees are now gradually heading back to their desks, a much greater share will work from home at least occasionally than before the pandemic.
A new book, “Leading at a Distance”, by James Citrin and Darleen Derosa of Spencer Stuart, an executive-search firm, attempts to provide some practical tips for managers dealing with staff whom they do not see face to face.
The authors are not in the gloomy camp that believes remote working is a disaster.
They think it can be just as effective as face-to-face work.
They point out that the ability to hire people who can work anywhere means that businesses will find it easier to develop more diverse workforces.
A study by McKinsey, a consultancy, found that 70% of companies thought remote hiring would help in this respect.
The book offers some useful advice.
For starters, keep virtual teams small.
The upper threshold seems to be around a dozen.
A study found that 37% of low-performing teams had 13 or more members, compared with just 24% of high-performing teams.
In addition, the best-performing teams tended to be drawn from one department, such as marketing, rather than from across the firm.
The trickiest part of the manager’s job is building rapport.
It is easy for remote workers to feel isolated so supervisors should be in regular contact.
But it is a tricky line to walk.
There is a difference between checking in to see if someone needs support and constantly monitoring their progress.
If team members feel they are being nagged, they will conclude their superiors don’t trust them.
Much communication will be by email, which has its advantages.
It is easily shared, can be read several times to aid comprehension and can be referred to long after it is sent.
But email also introduces the risk that nuance is lost.
The authors cite studies showing that emails perceived to be neutral in tone by the sender are seen as negative by the recipient; and recipients consider neutral those perceived by the sender to be positive.