In real estate, the mantra is “location, location, location.” In dealing with remote workers, where they are is secondary to how well they work with you – the motto becomes “communication, communication, communication.”
So, how do you lay the groundwork for a successful working relationship? Start off by putting together a new hire care package – contact information, introductions to other important team members, your working hours, company background, etc. Now it’s time to get specific, measurable and time-bound with your expectations.
Specific Assignment Details
Lay down for your new contractor the expectations for their assignment. What do you expect them to accomplish? How often should they be in touch with you? Revisit your original job posting to help you recall what exactly you were hoping this role could accomplish.
“As I mentioned in the job post, you’ll be expected to lay out the process and implement a new blog design for us. I’ve already had a design drafted by Bob (copied on this message), who can help you understand the context on our design choices, and can make minor changes to the design based on your recommendations for taking advantage of the most recent WordPress updates. Your WordPress credentials will be emailed to you shortly. Over the next day or so, you’ll be receiving a number of emails with information about this assignment. Let’s plan to talk on Wednesday about the information we’ve sent over — you can let me know if you have any questions and we can go over the timeline for this process.”
You want to build a successful working relationship with your contractor – one that gives them the opportunity to shine and showcase their expertise. Have them suggest appropriate metrics to judge their performance on, consider their recommendations against your business needs, and lay out suitable metrics that will allow you to assess their work against a measurable set of standards.
“I’d like to make sure we’re assessing your work appropriately. We were thinking of developing metrics to help us with this – perhaps around meeting plan deadlines, improving SEO efficiency and blog traffic in the 3 months following the redesign. Can you think a bit about what metrics you feel would be an accurate assessment of your success in this role, and send me an email with your thoughts within the next day or so? I’d like to have these in place before our first team meeting next week.”
It sounds harsh, but not giving your remote worker clear deadlines is a surefire way to sabotage their efforts and ensure that your project — no matter how critical — will come in over-budget and over-time. Is this a long-term or ongoing assignment? Set out a schedule of weekly or monthly conversations and your expectations for each one.
“I’d like us to talk via Skype every Friday for the first few weeks. On those calls, please be ready to give me an update on your progress, any problems you’ve run into and your thoughts on the process over the coming week. Please also use this time to let me know if there will be any changes to your working hours for the next week. Once we have a good sense of how the assignment is progressing, we can move these updates to an email format.”
Your remote worker needs communications that are specific, measurable and time-bound in order to do their part in creating a successful working relationship. Be clear, concise and upfront with them about assignment details, metrics development and deadlines — and keep the communications channels open.
Have your own tips for managing a remote worker? What details are must-include in your early communications with your new contractors? Let us know in the comments!