If you work for a company with multiple offices, chances are at one point or another you will be asked to travel. And although such an offer affords a great opportunity to explore a new location and learn processes being utilized by a fellow management team, when offered this opportunity most managers will immediately become concerned with how to keep their team motivated from the road.
The following are a few key ways to handle this challenge, may it arise:
1. Stay in Contact. In today’s world, it is nearly impossible for a person to be entirely unavailable to their team. Before you kick off your travel plans, be sure that the team member you are leaving to lead the group has your personal contact information. This ensures that, at a bare minimum, someone can reach you at any time – if need be. Be sure to check email at the beginning and end of each day, too, so that your team can start and end their day with answers to any outstanding questions they may have. Lastly, if you have time – don’t be afraid to schedule a video conference from the road. This personal contact will allow you to read your team and how they’re feeling in a way that phones and email just don’t afford.
2. Stay Current. Just because you are away from the office doesn’t mean that you should unplug from what is going on at “home.” Checking group email and software periodically throughout your travel is a great way to stay in the know. If you manage off-site staff, be sure to check in on them via whichever system you typically use to do so. Touching base with the staff out in the field can be as helpful as doing so with those in the office – it gives the team as a whole the feeling that you may be away but you are still saying current. Doing so can also help you forecast any potential problems that may arise for your team – this allows your team to remain proactive as opposed to reactive even with you gone. Not only will this benefit your team, but it will go a long way with your clients as well.
3. Stay Confident. At the end of the day, there is nothing better for a team than an on-site manager. Being able to be right down the hall when the team needs you is ideal. However, it cannot always be a reality. Therefore, it is important that you have a team in place to be able to withstand your absence. Before you head out on the road, be sure the lead you leave behind feels comfortable in that position. Try to forecast any situations that may arise and work with them on how to problem solve with you away. And when that is done and you are off on the road – stay confident. This is the team that you have assembled and trained – they should be ready to take on the challenge with you gone. So let them rise to the challenge and feel confident in their ability to do so – this confidence will allow you to do what you need to do on the road as well make them feel empowered to run the show in your absence.
So, next time an opportunity arises and you are asked to travel for your company - don’t be afraid to do so! As long as you remember to stay in contact, stay current and stay confident then things will go well – for both you and the team you leave behind.