Regular readers of our blog will have seen my first piece on the top tips for effective remote management across borders which offered advice to leaders managing sales professionals around the world. I’ve been further examining my own experiences over 30+ years of operating within the international sales arena.
Remote management across borders is certainly a tough job and I probably made every mistake in the book in my early days, while learning some useful lessons along the way. All but the most unadventurous would surely agree that the fascination of trying to motivate, lead and manage teams across different cultures, languages and time zones is both exciting and demanding.
However, there are always challenges brought on from working in this way, which is why I’ve listed my five key tactics to help you successfully manage a remote team.
Five key operational tactics for remote management:
- Have a genuine interest in the lives, careers and daily challenges of the people under your management. Take time to engage them in how they feel about their job and their progress towards objectives. By earning your team’s respect you can get the very best commitment to achieving your objectives.
- Take a lesson in neuro-linguistic programming and mirror your team members’ behaviours to build rapport with them. Make an effort to think like they do. If your own native language is different to that of a rep you are interacting with – and they speak your language – try to use the same subset of your language that they do. Long and overly complex, ambiguous words in your own language will only cause issues and create barriers.
- Where possible, study the national culture of each team member. A gentle request in one culture can be seen as severe criticism in another while being seen as unimportant by a third. A team member embedded in one culture with a minor problem can express it as a job-critical, potentially resignation-worthy matter, and – in reality – not care that much about it. In direct contrast, I’ve experienced being on a field accompaniment with a sales rep and just 24 hours later he resigned. Not once when we were together had he mentioned a serious issue that had been troubling him for weeks.
- Above all else, give recognition to your team members for their hard work, particularly in cases where they’ve helped fellow colleagues. Recognising effort inspires everyone and avoids the discouragement of talking about ‘natural talent’ which is obviously unobtainable unless you are born with it.
- Finally, as a leader it’s crucial to remember that what you say and – far more importantly – what you DO and who you spend time with are seen as signals about what is really important to you. So, for example, if you say a certain country is good for business, you have to actually go there, repeatedly. It’s not good enough to simply talk about it.
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