Depending on your situation, it could be frustrating or liberating to work with a remote manager. While on the one hand, you don’t have her hovering around your desk and sneaking up on you, on the other hand, you do not have easy access to her whenever you need. You’re also probably not her first choice when she has a project to assign to her team, just because of the sheer logistics. But, there are a few ways you can have an effective remote reporting relationship.
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1. Make the maximum use of your regular check-ins
Any good manager knows how important it is to stay connected with her team, even more so if the team members are remote. Set up regular meetings – video conference, Skype, or call, and keep it consistent. Send an agenda to your manager a day in advance, as a reminder and also to let your manager know that you value and are respectful of her time. Work around your schedules so your meetings are uninterrupted and you have each other’s undivided attention. While it is important to come prepared for the meetings, it is equally important to follow up with meeting notes so both of you are on the same page.
2. Set ground rules for emergencies and quick turnaround situations
If you are working in a different geography or time zone, communicating could be tricky. Sometimes it’s too late or too early to connect with your manager. Depending on your job, you may be in situations where you need to execute swiftly, handle emergencies, take quick calls. When chalking out how you should stay connected, ensure that you agree on how you and your manager want to be contacted during those situations.
3. Attend virtual team meetings and plan in-person meetings
It’s the best way to get information firsthand. Sometimes news gets diluted or lost by the time you have your 1-1 with your manager. Make every possible effort to participate in your team meetings. It’s not impossible to find an “almost” convenient time for different time zones. Be flexible. These meetings are also usually when new projects are assigned, and team goals and important updates are discussed.
If you have to travel for work, plan so that you are able to meet your team and manager in person. If your office budget permits, travel once a quarter or so for an in-person meeting with your manager and/or team in either one of your locations or the corporate office.
4. Respect your manager’s authority and follow expected decorum
Just because you are remote does not mean you can take off whenever you want. Understand that you are your manager’s responsibility and your performance directly affects her. Keep your manager posted on major schedule changes, so she has time to consider and manage project priorities. Being remote, it is all the more important that your manager can trust your work ethic. Once your manager is confident about your commitment to work, she will be more understanding and willing to accommodate your requests.
5. Create a career development plan with your manager
Because opportunities do not necessarily fall into your lap, have a career discussion with your manager and share your aspirations and how you’d like her to help you. Seek out assignments that you think would help you develop. Let your manager know your interests so she can keep you in mind when new projects come up. Your location may be an issue, but offer solutions and a plan for delivering.
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