Employees will never work to their full potential if they don’t feel trusted by management. A lack of trusting relationships hurts employee morale, which in turn lowers productivity. A sound hiring process will ensure that your organization has employed the right people who are capable of making a positive impact on your bottom line. It’s up to managers to take a step back and give their teams some autonomy, as they should have confidence in the people they’ve hired and avoid the temptation to overstep their authority. This is especially true of field team managers; remote employees are independent by nature and thrive in environments where they have to use their skills and judgment to solve problems. Managers can rest assured that their employees are effectively taking care of business in the field if they are equipped with the right tools and are self-accountable.
Micromanagement is detrimental to both managers and employees. Managers will quickly experience burnout if they’re monitoring their team’s every move. Not to mention, micromanagement is a horribly inefficient use of a manager’s time. Employees will start to believe that they need a manager’s approval for every activity they complete, making them unlikely to think of creative solutions to problems on their own. When employees don’t feel that their managers trust them, they experience lower morale and have weaker performances. Reliant employees can also strain relationships with clients. If field representatives have to constantly seek permission to make minor decisions, clients will become frustrated with how slowly they are being serviced and will question the competency of the entire organization.
Managers can more easily trust employees who are held accountable for their work. When employees posses accountability, they feel a sense of urgency to respond to changes in the field rapidly and proactively. In order for accountability to exist within a remote team, employees need to feel ownership for their activities and should be able to monitor their own progress. To foster accountability within employees, managers should involve them in decision making, particularly if those decisions directly affect their work. Business2Community contributor Mike Goldman describes this type of employee involvement as ‘participatory management’ in his article “How Trusting Employees Saves Time and Money.” He goes on to say that exceptional leaders allow teams to set their own goals, which allows them to take responsibility for their accomplishments. However, it is important that the team understands its role in the larger context of the entire organization. Even though team members may be setting their own goals, managers should still make themselves available to provide guidance along the way.
Aside from determining what goals they will be working towards, employees can also become more accountable if they are using metrics to measure their progress against. Metrics can be thought of as “mini goals” that collectively help employees reach their larger objectives. They could include things such as “number of new clients visited per month”, “customer retention rate”, “duration of client visits”, etc. When clear metrics are established and articulated to employees, each team member can keep track of how they are doing without having to be told how they are doing by management. Nevertheless, metrics are useful for managers because they can provide additional coaching to employees who may be falling behind. Note the difference between “coaching” and “doing:” it is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, to administer guidance and feedback as needed to employees. However, making changes and performing activities for employees instead of letting them do it on their own makes it seem like they can’t be trusted to do what they were hired for!
Managers should consider utilizing a mobile software tool that will help them gain visibility of their team's’ field activities and communicate with ease. If managers can monitor how much time their employees spend with clients or on the road, they won’t have to worry about employees slacking off. Moreover, with GPS tracking, managers won’t have to be concerned about whether or not an employee is lost or at a wrong location. The instant messaging feature available with some software solutions makes employee-manager communication effortless, and is a great resource for mitigating problems in the field. Also, certain software empowers employees to collect data about client visits that can be shared with management in real-time. This lets managers stay up-to-date about the status of client relationships. Having these capabilities will enable managers to let employees work independently while still maintaining control.
It can be challenging for managers to leave employees to their own devices, especially if past employees were unable keep up. Regardless, managers need to let employees use their skills. If employees don’t feel trusted, they won’t go above and beyond to get the job done. With the help of a software solution, managers can monitor their team’s activities without robbing them of their confidence.
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.