I’ve been working remotely for two years for the same company. We had a structured reporting system that seemed to be working until we got a new manager. Now we aren’t reporting regularly and I don’t hear from the new boss very often. What should I do so I don’t get lost in the shuffle?
Don’t forget about me
Dear Don’t Forget Me,
Elevating your visibility as a remote professional is important and takes work on your part even when you have an effective, engaged boss. When your boss is disengaged, the responsibility falls entirely to you to take the initiative and negotiate clearly for what you need.
If your boss is new don’t assume the neglect is deliberate. Give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they may be unfamiliar with remote management or perhaps they are simply focused elsewhere as they learn their new job. Rather than wait and wonder, reach out first before too much time goes by.
Introduce yourself and ask for a meeting to discuss the manager’s communication preferences and work priorities. If your initial inquiry is constructed in a manner that is respectful and assumes your new boss cares to connect with you; it allows your boss to save face while also giving you exactly what you need from them to be successful. It may also create a very favorable first impression as your boss may be very grateful you took the time to reach out.
Prepare for this meeting. Construct an agenda that includes carefully crafted questions related to work style preference. For example:
- How do you prefer to keep in touch with your remote team members?
- How do you prefer your remote team members stay in touch with you? Frequency of
- How would you like to structure check-ins with me? I’ve found that weekly check-ins have been helpful for my previous supervisors and for me – will this work for you, or would you prefer a different schedule?
- What information do you need from me, when do you need it and what format do you prefer?
- How do you prefer I communicate with you in between our check-ins?
Hopefully, this is all you’ll need to do to establish a new communication protocol and get things on track nicely with this new boss. If, however, you can’t get their attention, if they are actively disinterested in connecting with you or worse, actively avoiding you; you’ll need to take a more drastic approach.
Avoid the temptation to go silent. Use your network connections to find out whatever you can on your new boss’ style and work preferences. Use this information to determine the right channel to keep sending your messages. Stay on top of your communications and construct routine electronic status updates detailing your work priorities and progress made towards established goals. Send them at the same time so you show consistency. Keep messages professional and objective even if you don’t get a reply. And keep in close contact with your network, your colleagues and your project teams so others see your work progress. Use every tool at your disposal to stay as visible and as informed as you can. We also recommend you leverage any network connection possible to stay top of mind with any senior leader familiar with you and your work so you have alternatives if you need to look for new opportunities in the future.
Let us know how you make out!