Recently, my team and I were tasked with a delicate decision making process. Due to its nature and signatory level, team members were only authorized to explore and present options. The final decision was mine alone. Our project governance model clearly defined this decision making process.
One day I received a call from remote members explaining they were going to a vendor site to assess our options–I concurred. Several hours later they let me know that they had made a decision and signed a contract. When challenged about their actions they informed me that the vendor had demanded that they ‘act fast.’
Twice in my career I was the C level executive responsible for global operations. In one case, one of my direct reports was in a different office along with my boss, the CEO. I received multiple calls from the CEO over a period that ‘so and so’ had stopped by to talk and decisions were made about my operations. “Well you were not here was the excuse and it seemed like a good idea to me.” Would it surprise anyone that ‘so and so’ was relieved shortly thereafter?
In another, the software development operation was in a different part of town. Development plans were agreed to and then in some cases materially changed with without authority or even informing management. Needless to say, projects were late or not completed. After a few weeks of this, the development lead was terminated.
Remote Management Governance
Based on the above paragraphs, some may argue that I am not a very good manager. Perhaps, they are right; however, the point is remote management can be very difficult. Empowered individuals and teams must have boundaries.
Yes, hire smart people and get out of the way. However, there are limits as even Steve Jobs, the micromanager would agree.
Evidence suggests that working remotely has its challenges and not everyone is well suited for it. Some individuals will need additional support.
There is a great deal of information available about remote management. Some is sound, but this Though Leader on the subject disagrees with much the advice. It seems for many, this is their ‘first rodeo’ while remote management goes back to antiquity. While not the first, the Roman Empire functioned well from a bureaucratic or management perspective.
Currently, much of the discussion focuses on the Inclusion of team members. We are recognizing that Diversity is not enough if not every one participates.
Previously, we had put forth the construct that cross cultural teams have many of the same characteristics of diverse groups. We can extend this model and success that Inclusive Teams include those individual who are not as well suite for remote teams as others.
Managing diverse remote teams and assuring that all team members are valued contributors requires a level of managerial engagement that is constant, consistent and appropriately empowering. ALL members must be encouraged to participate and their input must be acknowledged by the others. Only then can Steve Jobs and Elon Musk like decisions be taken and not by those who tend to dominate groups unilaterally.
D&I in a Post-Pandemic World
Typically, D&I has been defined as a function of ethnicity and/or gender. Last year we put forth the construct that Cross-Cultural and D&I are similar models of human behavior and best practices from both could add value to the other.
Diversity must now include those are not well suited for new business models; however, flawed they may be–jury is still out regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of full time remote teams. Inclusion means they must be actively involved. Leaders at all levels must assure this model is successful.
How Do You Assure the Reluctant Remote Team Members are Included?
For More Information
Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials. They are provided for education and entertainment only.
For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game
We presented, Should Cross Cultural Serious Games Be Included in Your Diversity Program: Best Practices and Lessons Learned at the Online Conference, New Diversity Summit 2020 the week of September 14, 2020. Check Out this timely event and contact the organizer for access to the presentations!!
You can contact this author as well.