People & Human Resources

How do I put a bomb under my unproductive employees scattered around the globe?

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Aunty B,

I run a mid sized firm from a head office in Sydney. I have managers and employees in three states and we also have employees and distributors scattered across the globe. The problem I have is their productivity is a lot lower than those at head office.

How do I put a bomb under them?

Trevor S, Crows Nest

Dear Trevor,

Bombs might work, but it’s messy and a bit short term.

What you have to do is make long-distance management work.

Answer this short quiz.

1. How are you recruiting? You need to have recruited people who work well without constant supervision. They are independent and self motivated go getters who don’t whine and need constant back pats. You might need to use a recruiter who does some psychological testing to nut that stuff out. And I assume that all new staff come to your head office for a two week induction.

2. How are your long-distance tools? Your staff need to be connected through all the normal means such as email and video conferencing – and then some. They also need to be using the latest software that lets them all talk at once to each other and work on projects in real time. They also need simple accountable targets and measurements so they clearly know their goals and can measure their own success against head office.

3. How are you at communication? Do you constantly visit? How often are your conference calls meeting with all the necessary staff involved? Weekly? Make sure head office staff understand that they have to work in cyberspace with their colleagues and that virtual meetings are critical. Make sure there is time in the meeting for staff to socialize.

One very successful entrepreneur in the building industry used to recommend his staff read a book (usually a business book) that they would all discuss at the end of the meeting.) Also make sure that staff feel free to argue or disagree in these meetings – just as they would in head office. Long distance workers need to learn to get things off their chest and not mull.

4. How connected do the long distance workers feel?

What extra efforts do you make to make sure people are connected? Long distance workers should get daily or weekly newsletters that includes comments from other workers, customers and news on everything from who has had a baby to new technology, strategy, corporate culture and vision. Blogs, social networking and wikis can also help.

Now Trevor that’s a lot of work isn’t it and I know what you are thinking – a bomb might be quicker. But if you sit down and work out a strategy in place, delegate it out and out in that extra effort, productivity will improve.

Good luck,

Your Aunty B

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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