The Telework Improvement Act 2010 was approved by both the House and Senate. This is great news for eligible federal government workers who wish to work from home, unless their managers don’t fully feel comfortable with the idea. According to the 2009 Telework Report, one of the biggest hurdles in fully implementing the Telework Act is management’s resistance.
What is causing this resistance among managers?
Managers aren’t necessarily opposed to the actual Telework Act. The issues that are keeping them on the fence are making sure their employees are getting the work done, that they are accessible, and that they are adhering to the telework policies. These are common concerns of managers who have never led virtually before. What they don’t realize is that these issues are expressed behaviorally to their direct reports as “lack of trust.” Low levels of trust have the direct economic impact of high turnover, absenteeism, low morale, stifled innovation, challenged decisions, inefficiency, and often damaged customer relationships.
How can leaders quiet their fears about telework and build morale and trust with their employees? One way is by learning some important principles about leading virtually.
Ken Blanchard encourages managers to adhere to these three disciplines of leading virtually.
- Discipline I: Focus Attentiveness— Attentiveness means knowing the goals, motivation, needs, and experiences of team members and recognizing when changes occur. Since working effectively in a virtual environment requires high levels of independence, leaders must consistently communicate their desire to connect with the personality and experiences of those with whom they work.
- Discipline II: Foster Community—Most of us are unaware of how much we connect to an organization and a team by being on-site. We pick up cultural clues and norms by observing behavior, dress, language, behavioral norms, and communication patterns. Effective virtual leaders work diligently to connect team members to the larger organization by actively facilitating collaboration, creating the team culture, and helping virtual workers unite to build community spirit.
- Discipline III: Accelerate Development—It is too easy to lose track of the development needs of people who work virtually. Virtual leaders need to stay focused on team members’ career and personal goals and find ways for them to develop. This increases satisfaction, builds loyalty, and creates a more valuable employee.
How are you keeping the lines of communication open and building trust with your manger or direct report when you’re working from home?