In today’s world, virtual workers make up a significant portion of the workplace.  Your employees may work full-time from their homes or they may work part-time from home and part-time in the office.

Do you ever find yourself wondering … “Are all of my people just eating Bonbons and watching Oprah?” The more important question may be: “How can I support our virtual employees and set them up for success?”

The following key philosophy and recommended strategy will assist you and your virtual employees to achieve successful results.

Key Philosophy

Coming from a philosophy of “Assuming Positive Intent” in a virtual environment prepares you and your team for success.

Assuming positive intent means that we choose to believe that the people we work with and those we interact with have good intentions and are doing the best that they can all of the time. Assuming positive intent lets the people around you know you believe in them, that you have faith and confidence in them.

As Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi said in a 2008 interview with Fortune Magazine:

When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, “maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.”

In addition to saving valuable energy by circumventing unnecessary stress and emotional cycles, assuming positive intent can improve your professional life and the lives of your team in two ways:

  • A team that has a policy of assuming positive intent will usually be more efficient and better at collaborating because of improved communication.
  • When you assume positive intent you let others know you have confidence in them, and people will often go to great lengths for someone who believes in them.

Recommended Strategy

Using a reliable and accurate measurement system, effective training programs and regular communication with your virtual office workers provide you, the leader with a platform for success.

  1. Select and implement a measurement system.

The measurement system that you select must accurately measure objectives, milestones and results and is the critical first step.  Your team needs to know exactly what is expected and how to report results to you from day one of working virtually.

  1. Training is the second critical step.

Training classes will need to include how to use the measurement system as well as subject appropriate skills and product training.  Training needs to be scheduled and ongoing throughout the months and years.

  1. Consistent and regular communication is the third step.

There is a myriad of available ways to communicate with a virtual team. It is important to select the most effective for your team from the following list:  email, voicemail, instant messaging, video, teleconferencing, and texting.  Once you select the primary communication methods, be consistent and regular in your communication with your team.

Remote Management Stragey (1)

Putting it all Together

“My virtual team is performing at maximum efficiency! The leadership team is thrilled.”

Your virtual team will perform at maximum efficiency because you took the time to procure a measurement system that is easy to use and captures all of the necessary information. You also vetted and selected the proper communications tools and finally and most importantly you embraced the philosophy of positive intent.  Congratulations!!