DPM Podcast

DPM Podcast: Rules For Remote Leadership (with Wayne Turmel)

By 18/07/2018 8 Comments

Wayne Turmel is the co-author of the book The Long Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. In the book, Wayne and Kevin share simple rules you can apply to be a better remote leader. You can buy his book here:

Audio Transcription:

Ben Aston:

Thanks for tuning in. I’m Ben Aston and this is the Digital Project Manager Podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Clarizen, the leader in enterprise, project, and portfolio management software. Visit clarizen.com to learn more.

Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? How about now? I wonder if that sounds familiar to you. For me, it certainly does. That’s because as a project manager, leading remote teams can be really tough. It can be really hard just to hear one another, to collaborate, to keep track of where everyone’s at, and that’s before we’ve even begun to talk about conference lines and screen sharing and the difficulties with all that, but is leading remote teams hard because our teams suck, or is it because we’re not leading our remote teams well?

Find out in today’s podcast as I talk to Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute. He’s recently published a book, The Long Distance Leader, and today, we’re going to learn some of his rules for remote leadership, so keep listening to find out how you could be a better remote leader, and also keep listening because we’re going to do a book giveaway at the end of the podcast, and so keep listening and you could snag yourself a copy. Hi, Wayne. Thanks for joining.

Wayne Turmel:

Thank you for having me. We’re real excited. To be fair, I am the co-author of the book with Kevin Eikenberry, lest he think I’m hogging all the credit, or by the end of this interview that I’m taking all the blame.

Ben Aston:

No, that’s good. That’s good. You’re just a lowly co-author. Tell me how that works though, because I’m interested. How does co-authoring work?

Wayne Turmel:

It’s funny. Both Kevin and I have written multiple books in the past, and he has co-written his book, Bud to Boss, was co-written with Guy Harris. I have never co-written before, so this was an interesting experiment.

Ben Aston:

Do you find yourself a Google doc and you keep on deleting what each other write until you get to a happy place?

Wayne Turmel:

No. What we did was much smarter than that. Because we have such different styles, we outlined the book, we knew what chapters we were going to do, and we originally divided and conquered, and so I took half the chapters, he took half the chapters, and then we swapped and went through, and the trick was to take two very different communication styles and make them sound like a single voice, which the feedback is that we were able to do that, which shows how well Kevin and I work together, and we’re not physically in the same place. I’m in Chicago. He’s in Indianapolis. It can be done, people.

Ben Aston:

There you go. There’s the trick. Divide and conquer, but stick to a single tone of voice. Anyway, we’re talking about how you co-author a book, but tell us what you actually do. What’s this? You’ve obviously written a book about remote leadership, but tell us your creds. What gives you the inside scope on leading remote teams?

Wayne Turmel:

This is actually my ninth book, seven of which are nonfiction, and for the last 20, and I’m afraid to do the math, I think it’s 21 years, I have been teaching communication and leadership skills focusing primarily on communication, and been in the training business, and a few years ago, I started a company called greatwebmeetings.com that was focused primarily on remote communication. How do you use tools like WebEx and Skype for Business and use it to communicate effectively? And then a few years ago, Kevin Eikenberry and I had known each other forever, and Kevin is very well known in leadership circles. He’s consistently on the list of top leadership thinkers, and his book, Remarkable Leadership, is kind of a classic, and he and I had know each other for a million years, and we’re trying to find ways to work together and what was happening was I was doing a lot of work with technology, with project management groups, with communicating over distance, but I was starting to get a lot of questions about, “Can you help us with leadership? Can you help us with teams?”

Kevin, of course, for 20 years, had been an expert on leadership and teams and management, but he was getting all these requests about, “How do you do it virtually? What about this technology and that technology?” It seemed like the right excuse for us to come together, and rather than either of us recreate the wheel, we brought the best of what we have and created the Remote Leadership Institute, which is part of the Kevin Eikenberry Group, but if you go to remoteleadershipinstitute.com, you’ll see courses that we offer and blog posts and free downloads and checklists and all kinds of good stuff.

Ben Aston:

Cool. Check that out. Remoteleadershipinstitute.com for a whole lot of good resources. Let’s go back to the premise of the book. I mentioned this in the intro. I think all of us as project managers run into challenges when we’re working with remote teams because it’s not easy, and as project managers, we have problems with our teams, regardless of whether they’re remote or not. It’s just that when they’re remote, it seems to compound the issues somewhat. People seem to disappear.

Wayne Turmel:

Absolutely. It makes it more complex. Peter Drucker, great management thinker, said the greatest project management job of all time was building the pyramids, and we’ve just been trying to live up to that ever since. The problem is, the guy who managed the pyramids was at the pyramids. He wasn’t trying to flog the slaves by email, and so it’s really easy to think of this as this entirely different deal, but the fact is that project managers, second maybe only to sales managers, have been the first wave of people who have had to work remotely. You’re more likely to see pandas mate in the wild than to see a project manager who actually has his entire project team co-located.

Ben Aston:

That’s a nice quote.

Wayne Turmel:

And nobody planned for it. What’s happened is, “Oh, so and so is really good, so we’ll let them work from home a few days a week. So and so is moving to Denver and we don’t want to lose them. The best coder for this sits in Brussels, so let’s get her,” and it just happened by accident, and what’s happened is project managers who, as you say, were struggling anyway, because this is not an easy job, suddenly had all of these variables of language and time zones and not being able to physically see what each other is doing and not having the relationships, and so a job that was already hard was made more complicated. I don’t know if it was made harder. You have to remember that Genghis Khan ruled half the world and never held a WebEx meeting.

Ben Aston:

True. Very true.

Wayne Turmel:

So these things can be done.

Ben Aston:

Let’s talk about the issue, then. Do you think that the challenge with leading remote teams, is it because of the inexperience? Primarily, is your argument that it’s primarily because of the leader, it’s because of the project manager, or do you see there being … It’s also a challenge of the team. It’s the challenge of the fact that people … There’s two things, isn’t there? There’s flexible working and then there’s remote working, and my argument would be that people who are used to remote working, and who have set themselves up for it, they have a schedule, they know how, they’re kind of responsible in it. It’s very different from flexible working where it’s a lot harder to manage the team. What’s your perspective on where the primary challenge lies? I think you’re saying in the leader.

Wayne Turmel:

There’s two things. One is absolutely the workers are an important variable, and it’s funny because there seems to be this assumption that there are people who can work remotely and people who can’t, and you magically find the people who can work remotely and put them on your team and you’ll be fine, but again, nobody was born knowing how to do that, right? Even if you find people who are used to working remotely, they may not be a good fit for the way your team works, so there does need to be some careful consideration and recruiting and training and team forming with the people who are working remotely. I think though that if the leaders really know what they’re doing and they’re leading effectively, you can have a better chance of success. Just because you’ve got a lot of really highly competent workers doesn’t mean that the project is going to get done.

Harvard Business Review did some really interesting research and what they found is people who work away from the office space get more done, and that sounds like really good news, right? The problem is that it’s the tasks that they’re working on. They tend to be working on their individual tasks and very often, at the expense of team tasks like collaboration, sharing information, proactively seeking answers to things, things like that, and so it’s one thing to say, “Oh, so and so works really well remotely. They get a lot done.” It doesn’t mean that without the guidance of the team, and particularly of the project leader, that it’s the right things or the things that are going to raise all boats.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. Tell us then, from your experience and your perspective, what is it that makes a good remote leader, and is that different from a co-located leader?

Wayne Turmel:

Kevin and I thought about this an awful lot and argued about it and had a lot of conversations in places that don’t normally sponsor those kind of conversations, and there may have been alcohol involved, but we’ve been talking about that for years, and what we came to, and if you read the book, when you read the book, you’ll see that there is a model, the remote leadership model, that essentially says, “If you stop and take a breath, leadership is leadership.” If you break down the tasks associated with being a project leader, you need to set the vision, you need to assign resources, you need to manage performance and watch the metrics and you need to do all that good stuff. Nothing’s changed, right? What we do remains exactly the same.

What has changed, and it has changed enough to be critical, is how we do it, and that’s where a lot of people are getting their noses bloodied in that they’re used to working in a certain way, they were raised up a certain way, maybe they’ve always worked in a traditional leadership environment, and assuming that they’re really thinking about their leadership skills, our first rule of the 19 rules in the book, is think leadership first and location second. What this means is let’s say I need to delegate a task to a member of the team. How we delegate hasn’t changed. We still need to do it. The problem is if you’ve got a mixed team and you’ve got some people in the office and some people working remotely and the first person you see is somebody from the home team, it’s very easy to reach out and say, “Hey, you’re now doing this part of the job.”

Well, did you do that because they were the first person you saw and you think it would be easier, or did you do that because all things being equal, that’s the right person to delegate the task to? And there’s a lot of that unconscious doing things by default that happens because of two things. One is that we’re mediated by technology and we don’t all communicate effectively through technology equally well. The second thing is that our default is to do things unconsciously, and a lot of that happens with our eyes, so if we see somebody working hard at their desk and they’re in early and they leave late, that gives us a lot of information about that person and helps create our impression of them, versus somebody that we actually don’t see.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. Definitely.

Wayne Turmel:

And so as remote leaders, if we don’t intentionally seek out the feedback that helps us do our job, we’re really kind of working blind.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. Yeah.

Wayne Turmel:

And working blind.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, yep, yeah, definitely. I think that’s kind of a theme.

Wayne Turmel:

Proactively go after it.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, and I think that’s really a theme of remote leadership I think in general isn’t it, is that additional intentionality that’s required because I mean, what you’re talking about in terms of, you know, what we do isn’t different. We’re still kind of setting the vision. We’re still briefing the teams, but it’s how we do it. And I think sometimes that we can think we can apply the same techniques in terms of how we do it, in terms of hey, well, you know, you can just have a five minute chat to someone if they’re sat next to you to brief them on something. And if they’re sat next to you, that might be fine because you can, you know, use your eyes throughout the day. You can see how they’re getting on, whether or not they’re on track or not, and then you can course correct.

Wayne Turmel:

Right.

Ben Aston:

But, when we’re remote, we need to be more intentional about checking, okay, so I gave you a five minute brief. Now I’m going to write it up in an email just to confirm that you fully understand it, and then I have to be more intentional about ensuring that you’re still on track. And that’s, I think, where we can kind of fall back into, not necessarily laziness, but just the, the usual way that we work, and not kind of think, hold on, actually this requires a slightly different approach because I can’t see what’s going on.

Wayne Turmel:

Well, it’s interesting because that third point is the one where things start to go wrong most often. You know, we tend to be really good about being clear about the goals, and the metrics, and milestones, and all that good stuff, right? We tend to be really clear about that. And then we do our check ins, right? And we do our team meetings or huddles and all of the stuff that we do, and we do that. It’s the third one, the incidental conversations, the … One of the things that keeps coming up over and over again is, I asked them how they were doing, and they said they were fine.

Well, any married person on this planet knows if the person most important to you says, “fine,” they’re not fine. There’s something going on under the water that you really should know. The problem is that when we are talking to somebody in the hallway, and we say, “how’s it going?” And they go, “oh, it’s pretty good.” Well, what does that mean, right? You can read their body language. You can pick up some things. One of the challenges with working remotely is technology allows us to make communication really transactional, right? I don’t want to bother you, so let me just tell you this real quick is okay. They say okay, and the conversation is done. Right? We’re not listening actively. So when somebody says, “no, it’s fine.” The question isn’t, “how’s it going?” The question is, “what’s getting in the way?” Is there something that you need? You know, how we ask the questions, and really listen, and follow up on the answers is what gives us the value that we get with our eyeballs and our kind of spider senses when we’re face to face.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. No, and I think that’s an interesting point. And I think actually there’s a move towards asynchronous communication. Like particularly with things like Slack, there’s different bots that you can use. As you know, people can write an update, and we’re now overwhelmed with updates, whether it’s through social, whether or not it’s through Slack, or wherever, we’re just being bombarded by things. And it’s that lack of synchronization in the communication. So, you know, the fact that it’s not a two way street often, and we’re just shouting messages at one another, and then kind of moving on and thinking that we’ve understood rather than necessarily playing it back and just making sure that we’re fully understanding what’s going on. I think that can be sometimes where things begin to unravel as well in terms of-

Wayne Turmel:

Well, you’re onto something-

Ben Aston:

Communication breakdown.

Wayne Turmel:

You’re onto something that has been obsessing me for the last couple of months, and I know I’m going to wind up going down a major research rabbit hole. But I’m old enough to remember that my first job at corporate was rolling out email to my company, right, which was-

Ben Aston:

That was a long time ago.

Wayne Turmel:

26 years, whatever it was, years ago, 1996.

Ben Aston:

Yep.

Wayne Turmel:

Right. We were laggards, but it was still early in the game. In that 25 ish years, we have moved from most of the communication in an organization being oral to most of the communication in the organization being text based. Think about what that means. Twenty-five years ago, we talked about stuff. Even if we weren’t face to face, we were on the telephone or whatever. We actually verbalized what we were thinking, and we got a lot more cues from the communication. We could hear the hesitation in the voice or, you know, that kind of thing. Now, it’s primarily text based, and part of that is good. I mean asynchronicity is absolutely crucial when you’ve got people on the other side of the planet, right? One side’s working while the other side is in bed. You want that record of the communication so that you can go back and have an archive of the agreements and all that stuff, so asynchronous communication is absolutely critical. And it lacks what we in the book called the richness of synchronous communication.

Now here’s the problem. If I am the kind of project manager who is naturally kind of introverted and conflict avoidant, it is so much easier for me to send an email or leave a voicemail when I know that person is gone for the day than it is to get face to face, or get on a Webcam, or get that person on the phone and have that conversation.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, yeah.

Wayne Turmel:

So, it’s not that the technology in and of itself doesn’t get the job done. It’s just if we don’t use the tools and leverage them properly, we’re working at a disadvantage.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, definitely. And you spend quite a lot of time … Within the book, you talked about tools, and I mean, you said one of the things that you do is teach people how to use WebEx, Skype properly. So yeah, tell us more about how we can make our tools work. What is it about using tools? How can we use these tools in such a way that we can … It enables us to be a better leader?

Wayne Turmel:

Well, there’s a couple of things. I think the first thing is, don’t grab the easiest or most convenient tool and go for speed. You get no points for speed. But think and ask yourself, all things being equal, what is the correct way to communicate this message? Do I need it to be synchronous, right? Would an email suffice? Are there going to be any question? No, there’s going to be no questions. It’s a pretty simple data point. I can send an email. That’s great. Right? But think about, in an ideal world, what is the perfect way to communicate this message? And then get as close to that as time, space, and dimension allow you to do.

Let me give you an example. Skype is a perfect example of a tool. By the way, Skype for business is really good, and it’s going to only get more robust now that it’s Microsoft teams. I’m not selling a tool, I don’t have a dog in that fight, but the problem is, as we point out in the book, 80% of people use only 20% of the features. So, when people say to me, well, a Skype meeting isn’t as good as being in the room. I go, I’ll give you that, but why not? What would you do in a regular meeting that you can’t do on Skype? They say, “well, you know, I’d be talking and I’d asked for a show of hands.” You know, there’s polling, there’s chat, there’s emoticons. You can vote yes, no, up, down. So, you can get the equivalent of a show of hands. That’s easy. What else? “Well, I, you know, I can’t look them in the eye and see what’s going on.” The video in Skype works really well, and it’s super easy. “Well, yeah, but …” Okay, so you’ve got a tool, you’re not using it. What else? “Well, I like to go to the whiteboard or a flip chart.” You’ve got a whiteboard in Skype. And, inevitably they go, “we do?”

And so if you start thinking about form versus function, right? If you think about, what is it that we need to do? A conference call is convenient, but if you’ve ever been on that conference call … Now, if you turn to page three, halfway down, you’ll see.

Ben Aston:

Yeah.

Wayne Turmel:

Versus you can have that on the screen and everybody is looking, visually engaged, at the same thing, at the same time. Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do under those circumstances?

Ben Aston:

Yeah, and I think … So, I think what you’re saying, I think is so true in terms of, as project managers, as leaders, what it requires, again, as this is up front planning. So, I think when we’re used to leading teams, you know, in person, what we can do is know that hey, we can just get into a room and start jamming. And I think people, you know, that’s the way that it’s the path of least resistance. People like just getting in a room, and having a chat, and kind of working things out. But when we remote, it requires more planning, doesn’t it? It requires us to think, okay, what’s the best way that I can communicate what needs to be communicated in such a way that those people in the room are going to understand and be able to follow along. And it just requires this, okay, how can I ensure that I’m communicating effectively so that this meeting is going to be as good as it possibly can be? Rather than just defaulting to, hey, I’m sure we’ll just kind of work it out when we have a chance.

Wayne Turmel:

You’re absolutely right. I mean that’s … Congratulations. You have summarized the book effectively, and you win the prize. I want to give a little bit of love to project managers in that, that particular audience, you know, those of us that run projects have a little bit of an additional hill to climb. And that has to do with our own individual work styles. Project managers, by nature, we’re excellent individual contributors. That’s how we got to be project managers. You’re the best coder we’ve got. We’re going to make you the boss of the coders, right? But the very things, as Marshall Goldsmith said, what got you here, won’t get you there. The very things that enable you to focus on your work and tell the world to go away, you know, it’s red bull and pizza for three days until you solve the problem, which is an amazing skill to have, is not the skill you need when your job is not to do the work, it’s to get the work done.

And so, communication involved in being a project manager very often works against our preferred work styles and even against the way that we’re most comfortable. And so, it takes that conscious degree of thought, that mindfulness is the word that you used, that says, I’m about to do this. Is this the right thing to do under these circumstances? Or do I have to suck it up and turn on the Webcam even though I hate being on Webcam? There are times when seeing the other person, seeing the look on their face, creating a good human connection, and our brains crave visual human connection, that might be better than making a phone call from our car while we’re dodging traffic where I’m only listening with one ear, and I tell you what you need and then I hang up.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely. So, in the book … So, it’s called, yeah, The Long Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. So, tell us why do we need rules? Rule sounds quite harsh. So, why is it that you think we need rules? Tell us about Qi level. There’s … I think, is there 19?

Wayne Turmel:

There are 19 rules. 18, because number 19 is, when in doubt, see rule one.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. That’s cheating.

Ben Aston:

Should have done that for rule number 20.

Wayne Turmel:

In order to be mindful, we need a framework for our thinking. And especially with project managers, with highly technical people, one of the problems with traditional leadership is that it seems very amorphous and touchy-feely and not really practical. It’s like, well, think about your people, right?

Be a servant leader. What does that mean? How do I do that? But if you look at the rules in the book, we take simple things. Rule one. Think leadership first, location second. So I can say, as a leader, “What is it that needs to happen?” It slows me down from just reacting and firing off that email, and say, “Maybe I need to actually talk to this person. Or, maybe I need to get those two people to talk to each other.” Right? So, it creates a framework for thinking about what we ought to be doing. It’s amazing. If I talk to project managers …

Here’s another. I hate to keep coming back to the same example, but webcams. When we teach a class, inevitably, we teach most of our programs live online. So, the instructor is on camera. We encourage the participants to be on camera. I say to them, “Do you like the fact that you can see me?” They go, “Oh, we love it. We can read your body language. You seem really engaged. It gives us something to look at and stops us from answering our email.” Everybody loves seeing somebody else on camera. Well, why don’t you use your camera? “Oh no, I can’t do that.” Why not?

Ben Aston:

Then you can’t be performing.

Wayne Turmel:

“My office is a mess. I’m in my AC/DC t-shirt and my bunny slippers. I just got back from the gym.” Everybody has an excuse, because it’s uncomfortable. If the project manager herself doesn’t use the webcam, the number one contributing factor in adoption of a tool is, does the boss use it? That’s just a really simple example where you know what? I’d rather just send that email, but I really need to get nose to nose, and if I can’t get on a plane or get in the car and see the person physically, what’s the next thing in the pecking order? That’s why I think the rules are important, because if I said to you, “What’s the best way to handle this question?” I’ve got a problem with somebody not meeting a metric. What’s the best way? Do I fire them off a naggy email, do I send them an IM, do I have a phone conversation, do we meet face to face? They would inevitably choose the richest correct form of communication.

Nine times out of 10, people know what they’re supposed to be doing. And if you give them the chance to stop and think about it, they will do it nine times out of 10. But if you’re rushed, if you’re hurried, if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, and you don’t stop and think about the question, you’re going to default to what’s your preferred style, what’s easiest, what’s the least amount of trouble. It’s why email threads get out of control.

Ben Aston:

I think it’s that conflict avoidance as well. It’s the path of least resistance that if we’re not careful and if we’re not intentional about it, we’ll just default to, “Hey, I dealt with it because I wrote an email or I pinned something up in Slack. I can feel better about within myself that I did something, even though it was the, yes you did something, but it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Wayne Turmel:

That’s not just about the leader’s behavior. Have you empowered the team that if there has been four or five emails go by, and somebody doesn’t have an answer, are they empowered to pick up the phone and call the other person and say, “Look, I’m not getting the answer I need. Can you help?” Or have you allowed the culture to become, it’s every person for themselves, and it’s easier to ask by email and I’m going to get really frustrated and cranky and miserable about it, but I’m not actually going to solve the problem.

Ben Aston:

It’s a fun one. I want to talk to you about rule 11. Rule 11 says building trust at a distance doesn’t happen by accident. I think this probably one of the biggest challenges for PMs, is that … and you did a survey, and in that survey you identify … you frame as 70 … a third of managers are concerned that their people are not working, or they’re not working as hard as they should be. There is this trust issue. How is it that you think we can as PMs, how do we get to a point where we can trust our team, when we’ve got experience that they haven’t delivered on time when they said they would? We’ve got our fingers burnt, how do you rekindle that sense of trust and what’s the PM’s responsibility in that?

Wayne Turmel:

The problem with trust is that it is evidence based. And we default to the negative. Customer service people will tell you it takes 10 good experiences to overcome one bad experience in a customer service situation. Let’s think about trust. Trust is hard to build and it’s really easy to break. The thing is that we build it on evidence, and in the book we actually have a model which contains three components. Proof of alignment, or proof of common purpose, proof of competence and proof of motives. If I know that we’re all in this together, we all understand the mission of what we’re doing, we know why we’re doing this, and everybody’s on the same page, I can probably trust you. If I know that everybody on my team has a certain level of competence, that everybody can do their job, they’re good at their job, they’re at least as good at their job as I am, I’m going to trust that person. And if I know they have my back, proof of motives.

John might be really good at his job, but man, I can’t get him to respond to an email. That’s going to impact trust. Because I don’t trust that he has my best interests and the best interests of the project at heart. If all three things are in alignment, that’s great. The problem when we work remotely, is we have a very small data set to draw our conclusions from. If the only way that I know Alice is from team conference calls, and she never says anything, she logs on, I know she’s there, but she never says anything, she never contributes to the conversation, obviously she’s not good at her job or she doesn’t care. That’s not true, or might not be true. She might be taking lots of notes, she might be paying really close attention, she might be one of those people who tends not to speak up in meetings, but that doesn’t mean she’s not good at her job. But if Alice never says anything, and she just missed that last deadline, well obviously she’s useless.

That’s the problem is we don’t have visibility, so one of the things that is really important for a project manager leader of any kind, but a project manager to do, is make sure that everybody has visibility to everybody else. In terms of if somebody does a really good job, it’s important that you say to that person, “Hey, good job.” But maybe on the next stand-up, huddle, scrum, whatever you call your meetings, on your next meeting you say, “Hey, did everybody see the job that Tony did on that?” Because that way, they get visibility to how talented and smart and competent the other members of the team are, and if I have a question, I might go to Tony, because Tony seems to really know what he’s doing. That happens intentional, because we don’t all have visibility to everybody else’s work. We don’t all know everybody.

So that’s what the leader needs to do, is create … they need to do this for the organization. Do people trust the organization? To believe that the organization knows what it’s doing. They believe that the organization is doing for the right reasons. Do I as project manager generate trust? So that’s the thing is that it’s evidence based and when we work remotely, we tend to work in a vacuum. That’s why we concentrate on our own work at the expense of everything else. We get really focused. When we’re using contractors, it becomes even more so because they’re not employees. They don’t have corporate history. They haven’t known everybody on the team in a past life. How can we get them folded into the team? How do we help build trust quickly so that they become really useful … what’s the word I’m looking for … contributing members of the team as opposed to just another code monkey?

Ben Aston:

So it’s about creating opportunities to give them that kind of … I guess to providing opportunities enable people to show that they should be trusted or that they can be trusted and through that giving the team and the project manager confidence that, hey this person isn’t just slacking off, but they’re actually engaged in the project.

Wayne Turmel:

That could be as simple as just making sure everybody knows when people hit their metrics. That’s why dashboards and project management tools should be public for everybody to see.

Ben Aston:

Most of the time.

Wayne Turmel:

If there’s proprietary information, if there’s certain things of course. Generally speaking though, you want to know how your team is doing.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, definitely. I think that’s good. Well, we’ve got to wrap up, because we’re out of time here, but thanks so much for joining us. It’s been great having you with us. Now for the book giveaway that I promised. I’ve got a copy of The Long Distance Leader, Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership, by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel, and we are giving away a copy to a lucky listener. To enter all you need to do is to comment on the post where we publish the podcast and we’ll give it seven days and then we will pick a winner. Wayne, thanks so much for joining us today.

Wayne Turmel:

My absolute pleasure. This is so much fun and talking to project managers about this stuff is just always, always a blast.

Ben Aston:

Great stuff. If you’d like to contribute to this conversation about remote leadership, about the rules, check out Wayne’s book. We supply a link to the book so you can grab yourselves a copy from Amazon. Head to the resource section as well of thedigitalprojectmanager.com to join our Slack team and you’ll find all kinds of interesting conversations going on there too. But until next time, thanks for listening.

Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

8 Comments

  • Angelis says:

    Love Wayne’s point about utilizing tools better. Will definitely make sure to have a thorough understanding of all the features of an application before using it to communicate with remote co-workers.

    Thanks!

  • Floor van t Land says:

    Fun one! Real important and interesting topic that I have been struggling and juggling with lately.

    Floor

  • Banu says:

    I think it’s a very helpful podcast. Thanks!

  • Aline Vanliefland says:

    Great input! Thanks for sharing ? Would love to discover more through the book. Looking forward to the next podcast ?

  • Mathisha says:

    One of the many gems of this podcast is Wayne’s points about the three components of evidence based trust SEEMS obvious but needs to be said. Another is:
    “You have to remember that Genghis Khan ruled half the world and never held a WebEx meeting”.
    A good phrase to think about when deciding whether throw another app at a human/leadership/interaction issue.

  • Antonio says:

    Really useful. I think that planning the communication is the key.
    If possible, I’d like to share my case. I’m getting in same troubles you mentioned with my current experience with a mixed team of Italians and Balcans developers. Often, different culture and language do not allow to convey messages properly, even using Skype and face to face communication: physical absence is a real limit. Anyway, tuning the channel according to the message helped me to manage conflicts and misunderstanding better. “Lost in translation” can be avoided with a webcam for real. But when it comes to check how people work, it is always really difficult and you MUST trust them. You can’t say if they are working or not and you cannot be sure of that.
    At the moment, the nominee of the most charismatic guy there as local team leader seems to have been the best move. It improved his sense of responsibility and trustworthy in the entire remote team, even if real results are yet to come.

    Thank you again for your podcast and your helpful hints.

  • Wes says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. Very informative and insightful. Thanks!

  • Read (okay, listened to) Wayne’s book. I got so much out of it! Highly recommend it.

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