Staying in Touch With Your Employees When Travelling
Managing a staff remotely is much easier today than it was a generation ago thanks to the Internet, cell phones (especially those with international calling plans), personal digital assistants (PDAs) and video teleconferencing. Ironically, employees still sometimes complain about managers who seem to be missing-in-action.
To avoid becoming out-of-touch with your subordinates while you’re travelling for your sales and marketing management position, it’s important to put into action a definitive strategy. Call it your “managing from afar” schedule if you wish and stick to it closely (but with the understanding that you will evaluate its effectiveness periodically.)
Sample “Managing from Afar” PlanFor instance, if you know that as a sales marketing manager you’ll be out of the office quite a bit, even if it’s only temporary, your “managing from afar” plan could look something like this:
On a Daily Basis
- Call into the office at least one time (preferably two) and speak with administrative assistant and any other employees who need assistance immediately.
- Check email regularly and answer any pressing questions within 24 hours (if possible), especially those emails from employees, company executives or clientele.
On a Weekly Basis
- Talk with every employee in the sales and marketing departments at least once. (Certainly this could be problematic if your departments have large staffs. Should that be the case, you may want to only speak with committee heads or department sub-heads.)
- Send one mass email with pertinent departmental information to all employees. (This may be broken down into two emails—one for sales and one for marketing—if need be.)
- Keep direct supervisor informed of sales and marketing progress.
On a Bi-Weekly Basis
- Conduct a face-to-face meeting (or teleconference, in a pinch) with team members to discuss projects, concerns, ideas, et cetera.
- Evaluate sales and marketing reports and address any departmental concerns (such as underachieving personnel or lower-than-expected revenue.)
Making a “Managing from Afar” Strategy Work for You
The above “managing from afar” calendar will only work if you make certain of the following:
- a) Your administrative assistant(s) know the plan, too. Otherwise, they might not understand why you’re calling at least once a day.
- b) Your employees are instructed to keep you informed of need-to-know items. Ask them to compile them into one email per person so you aren’t swamped by dozens of emails from one employee.
- c) Your direct supervisor also is aware and supportive of your management-while-travelling plan.
- d) You actually follow the plan. (This can be a huge hurdle, especially for people who have difficulty with time management.)
Obviously, the plan can be changed to fit your own sales and marketing needs. And when emergencies arise, they will no doubt overshadow many of your goals. That’s okay; just make certain you get back into your management-while-travelling routine as soon as you can.
Flexibility is Key
As with all management techniques, this type of daily, weekly and Biweekly scheduling will be subject to changes over time. However, while you can expect that it is a “living” strategy (and thus will evolve), you need to take it seriously. Remember that all the high tech gadgets in the world cannot make up for poor planning or subpar leadership. Be the best sales and marketing manager you can… no matter what time zone you’re calling home tonight!