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Three Tips for Effectively Managing Remote Teams

Working remotelyWith business continuing to expand globally, leaders need to exercise new management skills in order to effectively engage an increasingly remote and diverse workforce. <click to tweet> In an article for CGMA Magazine, Dan Griffiths, CPA, CGMA, director of strategy and leadership at Tanner LLC, says, “One challenge of managing decentralized workers is giving them a sense of inclusion. Their in-person interaction is limited, but there are ways to make them feel like part of the team.” Read on for three tips from profession leaders on effectively managing remote workers:

Schedule Face Time with Individual Employees

Rita Karachun, CPA, CGMA, SVP and Global Controller, Merck, carves out time for weekly one-on-one phone or video chats with her far-flung staff to make sure they have all of the tools they need for success. “My job is not to micromanage them but to help them if they’re experiencing a roadblock,” she said. The weekly meetings also allow her staff to raise any issues that may have an impact on the business. In addition to weekly calls, Karachun travels to visit her global staff at least once a year for face-to-face meetings. “I want them to feel connected to the finance organization—to know they’re part of something.”

Griffiths says organizations must budget for and schedule time for in-person interaction. “Remote employees should visit the main office, and supervisors should visit remote workers,” he said. Face time helps remote employees build relationships, catch up on company news and meet new hires. “Additionally, the in-person visit gives remote workers a chance to discuss serious concerns with their supervisor that they might have hesitated to bring up in a virtual meeting.”

Foster an Inclusive Environment

It’s easy for remote staff to feel disconnected from the organization as a whole—especially if they work in a different region or country from the home office. “In order to be competitive in a global environment, you need to make sure your employees think of the whole enterprise,” said Steven Rivera, CPA, CGMA, Worldwide Senior Director, Johnson & Johnson. To help foster this type of inclusive thinking, J&J implements employee incentives on the enterprise-level. “Employees get to thinking, ‘Well, hold on. It’s not my or even my team’s success that determines my bonus, but the performance of the entire company.’ And that drives a more integrated way of thinking and working.”

Bose Corporation uses a similar incentive tactic: “We actually have a metric around collaboration across the organization,” said Jim Waddell, MBA, Corporate Controller. “People around the organization are responsible for putting forth what they have done over the course of the year that has been super collaborative.”

Create a Feedback Loop

Ammar Alhassan, FCMA, CGMA, CFO of BMMI—a Bahrain-based retail, distribution and contract supply group—recognizes the need to deliver regular feedback to his remote workers for the sake of both the employees and the enterprise. “It’s a constant challenge to keep everyone aligned to the overall business objectives,” he said. Several years ago, BMMI switched its performance management software to help establish more transparent goal-setting. “We were keen not to have this be perceived as having more software,” Alhassan said. “We wanted to use it as an opportunity to change behavior and change the mindset. We went around to various countries, meeting with everyone, introducing them to this process and setting expectations.”

At Bose, the leadership surveys its staff on a regular basis to uncover what it’s doing right—and where employees see room for improvement. “It breaks down silos because each of the employees has an opportunity to say their piece—and they know that we’re listening,” said Waddell. “It’s quite enlightening for us all.”

Read the latest issue of CGMA Magazine and view this 2-minute video from a CGMA event at Bloomberg headquarters in New York for more insights from finance leaders on critical business partnering skills including communication, leadership and decision making.

Do you have additional tips for managing your workforce? Share your insights in the comments section below or tweet your thoughts to @CGMA.

Chrissy Jones, MBA, Manager-International Communications, AICPA.

Remote worker courtesy of Shutterstock.

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