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The Challenge of a Remote Training Department

Is everyone in your training department located in the same city, in the same building and on the same floor?  If you said "yes" to this question, count yourself lucky!  If you said "no," you are not alone -- read on. 

Some of the common characteristics of a department where members are "remote" are:  low trust, misunderstandings, feeling isolated, and not knowing what's going on.  These characteristics create some tough challenges including but not limited to:

  • It's tough to get decisions made on a timely basis.
  • It's difficult to build a team and gain synergy.
  • Work slips through the cracks.
  • It's difficult to balance the workload.
  • You aren't always sure that everyone in "on the same page."

So, what do you do?  You work on relationships -- relationships between individual team members as well as between the leader and each member.  When you worked side-by-side with colleagues, you got to know each other almost without realizing it.  You would grab a cup of coffee or lunch together.  Or, you would notice a picture of someone's children on their desk and ask about them.  You didn't think about building relationships -- you just did it.

In the remote environment, those casual encounters are gone and so are the body language and facial clues we’ve depended on to help us get to know and understand each other.  So, now you have to be deliberate about remote relationship building.   This has to be a daily priority because it's keeping your team from being as productive as you need to be.

Here are a few ideas on how to build relationships with remote colleagues:

         1) If you can have a face-to-face meeting to get to know one another, do it.

                  Make relationship building the majority of the agenda.

         2) Use conference calls to build relationships. 

                  - Use the first 10 minutes of the agenda for relationship building.  Have

                           each person share things like:  what they did this weekend, what

                           challenges they have for the week, something they are proud of, a

                           thank you to someone on the call, etc.  Use your creativity.

         3) Schedule one-on-one phone calls.  Include time to talk about something

                           other than the work.

To be successful working remotely, put relationship building on your ToDo list and check-in with yourself weekly.  Ask yourself if you are building the relationships you need and are seeing the results you want.  If you are, congratulate yourself.  If you aren't, refocus and make it happen! 

© Susan K. Gerke. All Rights Reserved. Susan K. Gerke is the president of Gerke Consulting & Development.  You can visit her web site at www.susangerke.com.

 
 Susan Gerke
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