Today’s international marketplace all but guarantees frequent travel. And technology makes that easier than ever, but how can you be an effective manager if you are gone all the time? It’s a challenge many managers face. Here’s how you win.
First, take advantage of the wisdom and information you gain by being in other places working with different teams. Allow your perspective to be deepened and cultured by opportunities and strategies you may not come across cooped up in your own office all the time.
Also, avoid the temptation to use technology to stay connected to your office as if you were there ALL the time. Take advantage of travel to learn, to unplug and to build yourself, rather than succumbing to the temptation to virtually hover over your people. You wouldn’t stand over them and get in the way if you were there, why do it when you’re gone.
That leads to the first tip: let them have some control. You really don’t have to do it yourself, and, if you’ve hired the right people, it’s probably better they do it than you. That is, after all, why you hired them. Give your team a chance to earn your trust while you are away. Instead of worrying about the decisions they might be making, prepare opportunities for them to take the lead. GIVE them a chance to impress you…on purpose.
If you are sitting there shaking your head about the first tip, you have a bigger problem than you want to admit. Either you’re a control freak, or you hired the wrong people. When you hire employees, one of the factors you MUST consider is whether or not those people “need” you in order to do their jobs well. If they do, then something is wrong in the process. The goal of management should be to make the work better and more efficient, not just to make it possible.
Here’s another tip: set up your in-office operations in ways that work for your team, not just “how you like it.” Here’s the thing, the latter may make you feel more comfortable, but it irritates your people, distracts them and, when you’re gone, tempts them to waste time figuring out “better” ways to do things. If you have your protocols set up to best involve and utilize their skills, then they will be too engaged in doing their work to tinker. But, if you insist on doing things in a way that hinders their work, smart people will never stop trying to fix your stupidity. Their success is your success, and it’s much more important than your comfort level – never forget that … whether you are in the office or out chasing more business.