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Managing in Cyberspace


Managing your employees in an office setting requires a fairly common protocol. You can stop by their desks at any given time to check and see how their work is going, or you can organize regular meetings to update the entire office on the state of the company. However, in today’s work environment, it has become a necessity for many businesses to hire employees or independent contractors who take care of their work out of office. Here are a few keys to help employers manage their out-of-office employees effectively.

Keep It Traditional

You don’t have to change as much as you think when managing off-site employees. Amie Marse points out that training videos, online seminars, workbooks and manuals are all just as easy to access from a remote location as they are from in the office. Whether all of your training materials can be accessed online or you need to print out and mail them an effective training program, you should take steps to ensure that all employees are well integrated into the company culture and aware of corporate procedures and policies. For maximum efficiency, consider developing all training materials online, saving yourself the valuable time and money it takes to print and sent out the materials by mail.

Be a Proactive Communicator

Just because you may not be able to meet with your employees in person does not mean that you shouldn’t maintain a steady flow of communication with them. I would strongly encourage employers to emphasize the two-way stream of communication. As employees update you on their progress, be sure to let them know what’s going on in the greater scheme of things. Demonstrating their value to the company will serve as a strong motivating tool. In addition to communicating with employees directly, you may want to send out a message to all employees simultaneously.  This way, everyone feels like they are receiving the same stream of information.

Demonstrate Trust with Silent Cues

As great as it may be to keep in touch with your employees, you don’t want to cripple their inspiration by constantly demanding progress updates while you bombard them with new tasks and deadlines. A good motivator might be to demonstrate your trust by letting them finish their projects on their own time according to the guidelines that you have given them. If you annoy your employees too much, they might grow frustrated and work less effectively that they would have had you given them a little more stress-free reign over their assignments. As a general rule, trust your employees with the work you have given them until they give you a reason not to. 

Help Your Employees Grow

Although you might not see your employees often, you can still get to know them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Show your employees that you care about their opportunity for growth by assigning them new tasks and offering them the challenge of something that they have never done before. Let them know that you recognize what they have been doing well and are challenging them because you want to see them excel in other areas. As Ms. Marse puts it, “Don’t just take advantage of what they’re already good at: give them an opportunity to impress you, and themselves as well.” Employees will value employers who offer them the chance to learn and develop their skills.  

Published: June 13, 2013

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Matt Tarkenton

Matt Tarkenton is Executive Vice President at Tarkenton Companies. He was part of a group that started Renova Partners, a boutique investment bank, and was recognized as a “40 Under 40: Up and Comer” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2009. Matt performs business planning and marketing training for hundreds of professionals across the country, and co-hosts a weekly coaching program on entrepreneurial education. Matt graduated from Princeton University, where he was a member of the 1989 Ivy League Championship Football Team, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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