Communication makes the world go round. Without an efficient means of communication in place, businesses that employ field representatives run the risk of having high employee turnover, customer dissatisfaction, and project failure. Effective communications practices within an organization will empower employees to tackle any challenge that comes their way. The following tips are examples of how managers can improve their communications practices with remote field teams.
1. Strive for Message Simplicity and Consistency
It can be difficult for managers to connect with employees who do not report to a central office location everyday. It is crucial that messages from management are easily digestible for field reps who are busy traveling to various worksites, meeting with clients, and collecting data. Managers should aim to deliver messages that use simple, actionable language, especially since field reps don’t have the luxury of interpreting nonverbals that are apparent during a face-to-face conversation. Using jargon and incoherent run-on sentences will only confuse field reps and prevent them from executing what is being asked of them.
Managers should also consider the importance of consistency when crafting messages that are being relayed to their field teams. It is best to create messages that use the same language and style in every iteration. Consistency also means reinforcing company culture and objectives in your messages, which can help to foster a sense of camaraderie amongst remote field teams.
2. Provide Feedback
Another common communications issue faced by managers is the lack of feedback (positive or negative) that is received by field reps. Providing feedback keeps employees both engaged and accountable. Feedback is especially important for field-based teams who do not often have the chance to connect with their managers as frequently as office workers. Recognizing employees for the work they’ve done will boost morale and make it easier for them to see how their accomplishments make a difference in the long-term goals of the organization.
It is also important to let employees know when there is room for improvement in their work. As hinted above, field reps do not get the same face-to-face "attention" as those who see their managers regularly. Hence, it is critical to inform field employees about their weak spots so as to not let them fall behind. Some Field Activity Management software solutions allow reps to keep themselves in check by viewing the tasks they’ve accomplished and have yet to accomplish on a given day using their mobile devices. Similarly, managers can monitor field reps’ activities in real-time from the back office. Employees will feel more connected to their work and organization if they are aware of and recognized for their performance.
3. Be Sincere
Employees can easily differentiate between when a manager is communicating with them genuinely and when he or she is being insincere. Similar to feedback, sincerity lets employees know that they are valued and therefore drives up engagement levels. Honest and open communication between managers and field reps is key to fostering trust throughout an organization. Managers should make an effort to verbally communicate with field reps individually to discuss the status of current projects, as well as future goals. Sincerity from managers is critical for remote employees to feel connected to the larger organization they are a part of.
Strong communication practices are fundamental for remote field teams and their managers. Poor communication only bogs down success. If managers and reps are able to converse with each other effectively, productivity increases and customer service capabilities improve. Businesses should consider implementing technologies that streamline day-to-day communication habits. Doing so will keep employees engaged, which is an invaluable attribute for any healthy business to have.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.