5 ways to long distance managing

In a global scene, sometimes the company and the people who run it aren’t physically together. How do you then ensure smooth operations? The folks at GhamPower run their ideas by us for our readers.

It should freak out every CEO to leave everything in the hands of managers to handle the office. Well, that is if you were a control freak like Steve Jobs. But if you are someone who knows how to keep things in track even when you are oceans apart, no need to fret. Sandeep Giri, CEO, Gham Power, Solar Microgrids for Business and Community, is one such manager. Mr. Giri runs his business in Nepal while living in the U.S. for most of the year.

There is nothing like being there for the team in-person, but a CEO’s got to do what a CEO’s (who stays away most of the time) got to do. Mr Giri mentions some valuable pointers for the long distance entepreneurs out there.

Be absent but appear occasionally

In our case, I’m the only manager/executive who’s abroad. I make a rule to visit the team in Nepal at least once every quarter. Nothing beats interperson communication, and it is a must to maintain a steady momentum for our various projects. We also digitally record our work as much as possible and share it over the Internet. For example, we use Google Docs religiously to share documents, we use an online CRM system to record all sales activities, and take as many pictures and videos of customer sites, works in progress, and related events as possible. We conduct our weekly management meetings and departmental meetings using video conferencing (or Skype if the bandwidth gives us trouble). Plus, it seems like everyone is on IM these days, so there is tons of informal communication exchange during the overlapping hours of early mornings and late nights. Trust is a big parameter, and to establish and maintain that trust, ongoing in-person meetings are key. We also make sure we deliver (and provide constant feedback) on all action items we own individually.

Use All Channels of Communication

• Online CRM – Zoho

• Document (text, spreadsheet, etc) + email – Google Apps (basically Google docs but under our private domain name)

• Video Conferencing – VSee

• IM / Phone calls – Skype

Over communication is the only way of communication

We have a full management team of four managers, each leading a particular line of business. How they work while I’m in Nepal is not so diff erent from how they work when I’m not there, because we are constantly in communication. For legal stuff (signing documents, etc) – I provide signatory proxy right to our GM, so no paperwork, contracts get stuck in my absence.

Trust Your Staff

We over-communicate on a constant basis. But it’s not to “keep an eye” on our subordinates – if I had to do that, I’d be in trouble. I have a great deal of trust and confidence in our team, and I see them as true colleagues, each bringing a unique set of skills and strengths to the table. I see my job as creating a structure where they get to play to their individual strengths, so we all work together to achieve common goals.

Don’t let time zone differences get to you

I am in the US (San Francsico, California), Nepal is 12 hours 45 minutes ahead of me, so we are literally on opposite sides of the world. But we make the best of our overlapping hours. Every morning, from 8 am to 10 am my time (8:45 pm to 10:45 pm in Nepal), and then during my evenings (6 pm to 10 pm, which is 6:45 am to 10:45 am in Nepal) – we seem to have a 6-hour zone to connect, and we make the best of it. Although it’s funny that when one party is bright and perky during the mornings, the other one is kind of dragging as it’s close to their bed time. We end up having plenty of “Good Morning/Good evening” in the same conversation.

Managed Video Presence

Moving beyond Skype and Google+ Hangout to make more out of your long distance team meetings, Subisu in partnership with Vidyo Inc has introduced a new video conferencing tool -Managed Video Presence (MVP). It allows up to sixteen users to participate in a video conference, and also allows sharing of files and presentations. To squeeze in side comments, the tool also allows separate one-on-one communication between the videoconference attendees. MVP works by simply installing an application on a computeror mobile device (with any operating system) and logging in through the internet. One has to register the device first, which would then be recognized by the network to ensure security. For devices with lower bandwidth capacity, the application compresses the video to maintain high video quality. It costs Rs. 2,500 per installation to move your team meetings beyond the office meeting room.

For more info: 01- 4424862, marketing@subisu.net.np

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