While you work towards your growth, consider how you can contribute to your manager’s success. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Your boss has her work cut out with the additional hurdle of getting a remote team to function and succeed together. How can you make her life easier? As a first step, offer predictability. Start with office timings. Follow the regular office calendar and clock for work hours as well as meal breaks. Your consistency and availability makes you a reliable colleague and keeps trust level high.
The individual and team meetings have now become the lifeline for your colleagues to get stuff done and for your boss to manage the team. Treat them with due seriousness. Be the first to join a meeting ahead of time. You get a few extra minutes with others who join early. Know that your manager probably has a packed schedule and limited time for the meeting. As a top notch professional, you know the meeting agenda and are fully prepared to contribute and not be a drag on the meeting. If you have called for the meeting, you are responsible for achieving the goals and closing the meeting on time. Assert yourself and control the discussion accordingly. In external meetings with clients and vendors, know that you too are representing your company and don’t expect your manager to carry that burden alone.
Choose a video meeting over a voice call or group chat whether you have a discussion with your manager or colleague. You gain a ton of information and context from the tone and body language that helps you take better decisions. The chances of miscommunication are lower and you are less likely to make mistakes. Though you have the option to attend the video call wearing your shorts, choose to dress formally as you would in an office meeting. Thus, you constantly strengthen both your attitude and image of a high performing professional.
Accessible and available
Did you receive a critical chat late because your internet failed? Or missed a call because your phone was on silent? Ensure that you always have the technology you need and can access your employer’s communication without fail. Always answer your phone—that unknown number might be a client with an urgent problem, whose next call might be to your boss. Check in with your office chat/ messages/ emails at regular intervals.
Beyond your brief
To be recognised as an outstanding contributor, go beyond expectations. Know that in a remote working environment, only outcomes are seen. Thus only results matter and the process and hours you put in are not as critical as in office. Hence show up with your best work in WFH. Deliver before deadlines, pick up projects that are important for your manager even if they are beyond your job description. Can you help your colleagues deliver outcomes and establish positive working relationships with them? Your approach makes you invaluable to your team and manager.
Communicate with context
The best antidote to lack of face time is over communication. Firstly, make sure that you have at least one conversation with your boss every week for inputs, updates and expectation matching. Secondly, take initiative to share relevant information with everyone and post required updates on email, calls or chats. Plan discussions in advance and add context with content each time. Imagine the questions that may be asked and have your answers ready. Focus on achieving business priorities and not just updating statuses. Finally, respect others and avoid emotional and controversial discussions on politics, religion etc .
Ownership to trust
The trust that your employer or boss has in you is the best predictor of recognition, appraisals and promotions. The best way to earn and foster that trust is to demonstrate ownership. Own your role, your outcomes, your team’s success and your employer’s goals. When you own a task or a role, then you prioritise time for deadlines, ignore your tendency to procrastinate, think through what could go wrong and are proactive in taking initiatives, solving problems and coming up with new ideas. You also increase trust when you own up to your mistakes immediately and show that you have learnt from them.
When your boss is new
If your manager is new, get the relationship started from a place of respect and trust. Help him learn the ropes when he asks, but don’t assume the role of a mentor. If you have any complaints against your previous boss, don’t share them and cast yourself in a poor light. Equally unprofessional is if you take on the mantle of a political leader and decide to be the voice for your team’s problems. Instead, figure out how you can help him settle down and succeed.
NEW REMOTE JOB?
1. INSERT YOUR INTRO
When you have joined a new job remotely and have never met your colleagues physically, it can take longer to feel part of the team. Speed up the process and help people remember you by introducing yourself when you speak.. Start calls with: “Hello I am Amey, and have just joined the sales team. How are you? Can I get your advice on…”
2. HELP IN HISTORY
The faster you know what people are talking about in a project or meeting, the earlier you will be able to contribute. Quickly get up to speed by going through the history of email threads you have been copied on or scrolling through group chat conversations on your office chat application.
3. MENTAL MAP
At office, multiple conversations and sources help you rapidly learn about your workplace, people and projects. In WFH, the repetition is missing. Use a notebook and pen to note every new nugget of information you come across. Build a mental map of your work and get your questions answered when you get a chance.
4. KYC – KNOW YOUR COLLEAGUE
Your output is higher and your stress lower when you connect and bond with your team. At office, you spent time with them over lunch, coffee and at the water cooler. While working remotely, make extra effort to start or join non-work conversations before and after meetings, group social meets or a scheduled virtual coffee.
5. CUSTOMISE CHANNELS
Your communication channel with your colleagues include email, office chat app, WhatsApp, voice calls and video calls. Get to know which channel is used for what kind of conversations within your team. Then understand each person’s preference of channel and timings so that you can customise to get the best responses.
(The writer is a career coach, mentor and the author of Yoursortinghat.com)
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