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Accountability With Remote Teams

Updated: May 16, 2022

I read a recent article from Talent Management magazine. In one survey, nearly 75% of remote employees said they were not sure what their team was trying to accomplish.

Managers can make a positive difference simply by being clear on expectations, repeating them constantly, and holding people accountable. To do this, they have to also explain "why".

When I teach people to set expectations, I refer to the 4 W's - Who will do What by When and Why. That last one - Why - is the key to autonomy and the ability to be flexible. Once you know why, you can make adjustments, add value, and meet the expectation. If you don't know the why, you are simply being a robot and getting a task done.

There is a concept in military history called Commander's Intent. Essentially, Commanders realize that they cannot be everywhere at once during the battle. So they communicate the intent - or the expectation - and assign the lesser officer to see that it is done. They don't tell them how to do it, because they know the battlefield conditions will change, issues will arise, etc.

When managing a remote team, that concept comes into play. You can't be everywhere with them, so by clearly explaining the 4 W's and the Commanders Intent (which is part of the Why), you enable them to make the right decisions to get things done.

If the employees don't know what to do and why, it is totally on the manager. And if that manager still have a job, it is on the executives.

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