Leaders are used to having teams spread out to local or global offices. Staying in touch with the team leaders is usually a process of having conference calls via the telephone; using Skype, WebEx or other media to physically see the participants (and allows you to assess their body language); receiving written weekly reports via e-mail or other communications vehicles.
When I was reading “Keeping Track of Employees with 15Five” by J.J. McCorvey in the June edition of INC. magazine, I was impressed by the process a CEO uses to remotely lead his company.
Chuck Longanecker is the Founder and CEO of Digital Telepathy, a web-design company of less than 20 employees based in San Diego, California. Longanecker, however, is based in San Francisco. To stay in touch with his staff, he has become a regular user of the Web app 15Five.
According to 15Five’s website, “15Five is based on a simple idea. Have each employee spend 15 minutes a week writing a report that takes their manager no more than 5 minutes to read. We’ve taken that idea to the next level by turning reports into conversations, and making it simple for managers to roll up the most important problems, insights, ideas and success stories.”
Using 15Five, Longanecker inputs the specific questions that he wants to include in a staff’s report such as “What are your sales projections for next week?” At the end of the work week, each employee generates a weekly report that takes less than 15 minutes. Once it reaches him, he only needs five minutes to read the report.
At Digital Telepathy, the first level of employees send their report to the next level and on up. By Tuesday, the CEO combines the reports so that he has a clear picture of not just what the individual employee is doing but comments on reports from managers.
Remote leadership is working for Longanecker. He states that, “Even if I visit the office just once a quarter, I have a clear vision of what’s happening.”
If you are a small business owner with fewer than 20 employees in different locations, this could be an effective and efficient way to remotely lead your staff.