An important aspect of leading on purpose is knowing well the people you lead. For this to happen you have to know them, understand what motivates them, values their strengths and be aware of potential weaknesses. All of this requires face-time.
Product managers interact with many different people who most often do not report to them directly. To be effective in their work they must become leaders. Because of the nature of the work, it is vital that product managers treat their colleagues as true assets. Toward that end, a product manager must spend time with the team. This means talking with them, listening to their concerns and fears about the current phase of the project, and occasionally taking them out for lunch. A good lunch always motivates people.
Many product managers and other business professionals work from remote locations, away from the people who make up their teams. The primary reason for hiring remote workers — commonly cited by many companies that so hire — is to get the best people for the job, which makes sense. However, working remotely from the team diminishes the amount of time the product manager can spend with the team leading effectively.
Although working away from your team can be difficult, remote workers can and should still follow the same rules they would if they worked regularly in the same office. To work effectively from a remote location, try the following:
- Visit the team often: Plan to spend at least two weeks with the team at the beginning of a project (or job) and two days a month at the office working with them. Face time is important; the team needs to know their leader. Plan ahead to minimize travel costs.
- Hold regular meeting: Schedule meetings with the appropriate teams at least weekly. Talk to them and listen to their concerns as if you were present.
- Be accessible: Answer email and phone calls consistently and without hesitation. Use instant messaging or other media for quick and easy communication.
Although working remotely comes with its share of difficulty, it can be done effectively if both management and the remote workers spend the time and energy to make it work.