If you’re a regular reader of Real Deal Fundraising you know that I’ve been working from home for almost five years and fundraising for a school in California. (I live in Mississippi.) I rarely talk about the fact that I manage a team remotely too. I have an annual giving coordinator who is also the communications manager for the school and an advancement associate who helps us manage the data and process gifts. She’s half-time for now and lives here in Mississippi. In 5 years, I’ve learned a few things about how managing a remote team is different than managing an office full of folks.
As offices adjust to work-from-home as a new reality, here are some suggestions for managing your newly remote team:
The entire work-from-home model is all about trust. Perhaps that’s why WFH folks are 87% more likely to love their jobs than office dwellers, according to research by Leadership IQ.
Your old worn-out 20th century leadership models that are based on command, control, activity metrics, pay-for-time, and micro-managing are not going to survive this crisis. Go ahead and make the change now and start trusting your people.
The 20th century also was a time that believed in work-life separation, that world lingers with us in the high number of people who are freaked out when their kids interrupt meetings. The work-from-home model acknowledges that people are people and their life is fully integrated and influences their work. Acknowledgement of this increases respect between employer and employer.
Leveraging technology is so crucial right now. You new superior hardware, internet connections, communications software, database software, and perhaps other systems. Lobby to re-purpose budget resources for this purpose and you will endear yourself to your colleagues.
Clear Goals and Plans
When you aren’t with folks in person, you must have very clear goals and plans. Knowing when things must be done is crucial but the deadlines must be meaningful in order to inspire action. This isn’t about having more meetings on Zoom. It’s about having a crystal clear idea of what you need accomplished when you go into those meetings. Write out a plan or use a project management software to keep things on track.
Focus on Outcomes
Do not expect that your team will be sitting in front of their computers for exactly 8 hours every day. When working from home, work happens around kids, laundry, cooking, and many other things. I find that texting to check up on a project is the best way to reach out. If things are not urgent, send an email. I also use email to send detailed plans. But with my team, texting is the best medium for rapid communication.
Focus on goals and milestones as you progress to goals. Don’t wring your hands over activity metrics and whether people are working “enough”. If goals are being achieved, they are working enough. Don’t feel you must find tasks to fill in the “gaps”. This is not the way to inspire loyalty.
How you manage your employees during this crisis will determine whether they want to work for you long term. This seismic social change will have long-term consequences, including, I believe, more people wanting to work from home permanently. Why not view this as a opportunity to put some new management skills in your toolkit? Comments and questions are, as always, welcomed and encouraged!
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PPS - There's still time left to join my new course, All-Star Annual Giving. The course begins on Monday, May 18th! All-Star Annual Giving is a fully online 12-week course with 9 modules covering all areas of annual giving strategy and execution. If you want to roll into the semester with a fully-fledged plan to raise more money than you've ever raised before in your annual giving programs, you need to be in this course.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.