Tweet: Having a remote boss requires special handling of your progress and managing performance optics. Heed these guidelines to prevent surprises.
Many of my clients work in locations remotely from where their bosses are locatedHQ. Although this can be a blessing in may waysyou think you have more freedom to do what you want when no one is watching you, you can come and go as you please, among othersyet there are many traps that can be detrimental to your welfare, even your career, if you do not understand what it takes to manage how your boss sees your performance. I have witnessed many cases where high-performing, yet complacent clients were blindsided by their Annual Performance Review (APR) narrative, when they were convinced that everything was peachy!
So, what do you do to protect your standing when it comes to your APR and to get a fair review despite your remote location? Here are some lessons from my dealings with many clients, who were blindsided, some severely enough to significantly impact, not just their jobs, but even their careers:
- At the beginning of you APR cycle have a clear understanding of the roadmap for the coming year and what priorities are set for you to deliver on your assignments. Do not assume that pending and yet-to-be-completed projects or tasks will carry the same significance in how your rating will be decided. Ask do NOT assume.
- Discuss with your boss each critical element of the assigned task and make sure that your assessment of the scope and your bosss are in reasonable agreement. Again, do not assume that your boss sees each task and how it is scoped the same way as you do.
- Know your bosss management style. If they are a micromanager and you shun it, make sure you provide enough ongoing way points as you progress on your task to keep your boss in the loop in the way that they are confortable with. Once again, during your weekly or periodic remote session ask them this question specifically.
- Keep a rhythm to your ongoing reviews and summarize each session in an email (brief) to your boss immediately afterwards. For example, Thanks, Jim, for acknowledging my success on project-X and the special effort it took to get two extra team members to complete the pending task without missing the deadline. Also, your guidance on how to secure additional resources for future tasks if we run into a bind was very useful. If you have an ongoing trail of such exchanges, and if your boss does not refute them, then it is going to be difficult for them to challenge this pattern and suddenly slam you at APR time.
- Find a reason (even an excuse) to periodically visit the HQs and check things out for yourself. When you are remote it is difficult to visualize how your boss operates, who influences them, and how they form their perceptions about you and your work. Even if your boss comes and visits you at times, do not assume that it is the same thing as your going to where the boss is and checking things out. If you see any of your detractors working in close proximity with your boss, watch out for what is being fed to your boss as a routine matter of exchanges between them. This can build up over time and blindside you at the most awkward moment.
- Travel budgets and time limitations can get in the way of HQ visits. Find ways to keep your eyes and ears focused on your bosss MO and take the necessary measures to keep your message to them on target. Again, do not assume that boss knows what is really going on; make an effort to communicate what matters to you and to your team. Do not shortchange your periodic reviews, followed by summary emails (see #4)
- Make sure that the chain of command and your boss are seeing the SAME picture when it comes to how they perceive what is going on with you. In the case of one client, despite her heroic efforts to bring back on track a major derailed project, one aspect of that project, not related to her work overshadowed the perception of how the higher-ups saw what had happened. This resulted in her getting a subpar review despite her well-recognized success on that derailed project. Learn how to manage the optics of negative influences around your work, so that you do not get associated with that optics.
- Make sure that you synch-up with your boss as your project progresses and that the scope of your responsibilities is clearly understood, despite the initial synch-up. Scope-creep, shifts in priorities, and other influences can change the way a project gets viewed by higher-ups. So, again, ask and do not assume through your ongoing reviews with your boss.
- Learn to read signals from your boss and from those around you. Before a major shift (lay-off, PIP, or a termination) there are unmistakable signals that people fail to decipher. Often, they go into denial and fail to see the ratcheting pattern of these negative, danger signals. Open your eyes, seek guidance from an outsider or experienced person, and preemptively act to protect your career. Do not go and stay in denial until you are suddenly walked out.
- Always have your rsum and LinkedIn Profile up-to-date, especially when your boss is remote.
Being managed remotely can be a freeing experience, but do not forget the down side of how it can affect your job or even your career. Take charge and follow these guidelines to protect your future.
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.
After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.
During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.
Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.
Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.
Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.
Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.
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