Supervising and coaching remote workers can present distinct challenges. When coaching is required, managers need to look at what kind of issue needs to be resolved, says Erika Tedesco, author of the December 2013 Infoline, "Managing the Virtual Workforce."
Many issues are either related to performance or attitude. "In a virtual environment, managers will want to consider how performance and attitude issues may be perceived or exacerbated via technology."
Tedesco offers suggestions on what forms of technology may be appropriate for different coaching situations.
Web conferencing. In addition to allowing a supervisor to video chat with an employee, web conferencing provides the added benefit of screen sharing. That allows for real-time documentation that may support the need for coaching.
Videoconferencing. Because the manager can both hear and see his employee, the manager can gauge the staff member's reactions and tailor the conversation accordingly.
Telephone. A quick phone call can be done informally at a moment's notice. That makes the technology a good choice for low-stakes conversations.
Tedesco recommends that managers, whom employees may see as being out of touch with their work and daily activities, have documentation in hand "that supports the need for the employee's change of behavior."
These tips were adapted from the December 2013 Infoline, "Managing the Virtual Workforce." For more information, go to www.astd.org/Infoline.