The Theory Of Remote Management

Let’s start with some simple issues surrounding performance. As managers while we are present in the workplace we can see what our staff are doing, how they are doing it and whether they are doing it right. If we observe that a member of staff is not doing a job in the right way then we are able to correct that behavior (hopefully immediately).

But what happens when we are not there? How are we able to ensure that business processes are being followed and the team are doing what they are supposed to be. All hail the theory of remote management!

Imagine we have a business selling cars. A new cluster manager is employed to look after 3 car lots in 3 different areas. He’s specifically interested in one of them (which we shall call Lot A) because it is supposedly underperforming. He walks into the car lot and he sees lots of dirty cars arranged in a haphazard manner, some without the prices attached. The sales team are nowhere to be seen and it is obviously lacking in any kind of leadership or management. With this set up Lot A is able to sell 5 cars a week, all of them with a low price tag.

The new manager immediately calls a meeting and gathers all the employees round. He informs them that this standard of work cannot continue and lets them know the changes that are going to be made.

All of a sudden the cars are cleaned, put into a nice orderly arrangement in the parking lot all with prices showing. The sales team become a visible presence and approach every new customer with a smile and enthusiasm. And sales go up!

Now Lot A is selling 15 cars a week and half the cars being sold are top end models! That’s a 3 times increase in sales! The manager, however, needs to spend the next week at another one of his car lots and so leaves one of the team in temporary charge. Guess what happens? Sales go back down to 5 cars a week.

How did this happen? Well, you probably already know. All the things that were supposed to happen the following week didn’t. The cars got dirty again. They were not arranged correctly in the parking lot and the sales team did their vanishing act again.

We’re not clairvoyants so how did we know this? The team when challenged will of course state that all the same things did get done but “nobody was buying” but we know different.

The theory of remote management is what this simplistic example is all about. First, some kind of benchmark needs to be established according to best practice. If all these things are done correctly then we will achieve this result. Once this has been established we can use the figures generated to know whether the right things are being done. If the same or greater figures are not being achieved then we know that the same business processes are not being followed. Great (or not)!

This encapsulates the basic theory of remote management. The principal is sound but relying on figures all the time is not sound business practice. There has to be a balance between judging a manager’s performance on figures and judging it on observation of what is actually getting done on a daily basis. Remote management is also why senior management tend to be so figures orientated and not as focussed on business processes as it is easier to open a laptop and check figures than take the time to visit a store.

To sum up, remote management is a great tool for managing remotely (funny enough) but shouldn’t be the sole way to judge how well a manager adheres to best practice in any business.

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This entry was posted on November 12, 2012 and is filed under Management, Managing Employees. Written by: . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.