How to get the best out of your newly hired remote worker.

In this series of articles our Org Psych, Virginia Henningsen, takes you through real-life (anonymised of course) examples of personalities you are likely to encounter when recruiting for your startup/scaleup and the tips and approaches you can apply to bring out their best. Yes, there are also pitfalls to look out for and some people you might want to avoid at all costs!

Welcome to the last of our series on some of the characters and personalities you are likely to hire into your startup as it grows. We have been fortunate to have real (anonymised) personality profiles and scenarios to share with you and the feedback we have received from both startup founders and also people who relate to the personality profiles presented has confirmed they have found it really useful and validating. 

Today we are looking at the ‘remote worker’.

Your startup is growing! You are expanding geographically and the time has come to literally put some people on the ground in those new markets. Managing anyone remotely requires a slightly different approach compared to managing someone you see day in day out. Often a new hire in a new location (outside of headquarters) could be a revenue generator, lead finder or pure salesperson. They could be someone like Lisa.

Over to Virginia our Startup Psych…

We assessed Lisa for a new role based remotely, working on her own, but in a collaborative workspace for a startup focused on building out a delivery platform. Lisa had a couple of years of experience in enterprise sales but had predominantly worked for well-known brands/corporates. While she had also worked for a startup previously, Lisa had left that organization before it really started growing. She had worked outside of a headquarters, on her own before, but had been based in an office with others from different functions, but not sales.

We assessed Lisa, using just a personality profiling tool and a structured psychological interview, and her assessment suggested that she is a socially confident, self-aware and capable operator. She is commercial and results-oriented, has good relationship building skills and should be capable of connecting with and influencing a range of different stakeholders. She is likely to be very personable and achievement-oriented and is likely to be able to bring strategic and thoughtful insights to the role.  The following were my suggestions for her motivation, management and ongoing development.

Key Motivators

Lisa’s profile reveals that she is driven, is comfortable in a position of power, and capable of asserting herself and directing and coordinating others. She also has a reasonably strong need to be noticed, to stand out and to be consulted for her views and opinions, and she may be offended if not asked. Further, she may be needy of positive feedback and will derive energy and motivation from spending dedicated time with her manager reviewing performance and forward planning. Regular contact via google hangouts, facetime or equivalent should be booked in on a weekly basis – a formal planning discussion perhaps at the start of the week and a less formal discussion at the end of the week to review the week’s activity. It will be important to maintain this schedule of catch-ups, as Lisa may be easily demotivated when she lacks attention. 

Clarity and Goal Setting

Her assessment revealed that it is very important for Lisa to have clarity regarding her goals and the rewards she will receive upon achievement of these.   Timeliness of bonus payments, and an uncomplicated remuneration and bonus system will be most motivating to Lisa. Discuss and agree on these things before she commences so she can hit the ground running with no lingering queries about the link between her performance and rewards.

Further, it may be important to manage Lisa’s expectations carefully regarding the breadth and function of the job and the key remits. Timeframes may be important for Lisa. Setting objectives for the first 3 months, 6 months and 12 months may be motivating, and following up with her at these junctures to review her performance and set new goals can give her a sense of achievement as well as an opportunity to discuss new opportunities and keep her focused. It’s easy to let these types of catch-ups slip when you are seeing the results come in, and the person is remotely located. However the simple act of pre-booking these reviews, and then actually conducting them will be incredibly motivating to Lisa. They will keep her going when the going gets tough, way more than a “pep talk” when she is having a downward turn in sales.

Do you tend to let your regular catch-ups slide or bump them out for “more important” things? When you have someone like Lisa out there working for you, it’s crucial to stick to them and keep the rhythm going.

Below average self-control

Lisa profiles with a lowered level of self-control, which may assist her in the impromptu nature of the networking aspects of the role, however, when critical or more strategic decisions need to be made, encourage her to take more time or consult with others first. Indeed, Lisa is highly action-oriented and with only a reasonable level of self-control, at times, she may speak or make decisions without always considering the consequences. In critical and important situations, it may be helpful to encourage Lisa to take more time considering all the data or the range of consequences or to talk things over with another person before taking action. Let her know you are there for support, and she can call for a second opinion or a sounding board at any time. Be prepared to be there for her to keep motivation and energy high.  Respond to her quickly via whatever communication channels (Slack) she uses, just as you would if someone walked past you in the office and asked you a question. Responsiveness on your side will help to counteract and balance out Lisa’s tendency towards below-average self-control.

Highly Independent

At times Lisa’s high level of independence combined with her own strong views, may make it hard for someone to change her mind on an issue. Lisa will be best influenced when logic and fact are communicated as well as the rationale behind a decision or direction. Lisa can be an effective follower, however she strongly prefers information to be provided in the overall context and with strong logical rationale. She will be alert to fact, logic and commercial sense, but her motivation and openness may be thwarted if managed in an overly authoritative manner. Dedicate a little extra time when changes are on the horizon and you need Lisa to adopt them, to ensure Lisa understands the big picture and feels part of the new strategies or approach.

Need for control

Lisa’s profile reveals a lower level of self and personal control, but a high need for control over things and others. In this type of role it is likely to be a strong need for information and it is likely that Lisa will ask a lot of questions to gain a thorough understanding of the business or a situation. As part of her independent and determined approach, combined with her high levels of self-motivation, Lisa will seek access to the right data and information to enable her to perform her role with a minimum of direction from her manager. While she will be open to and may enjoy feedback and praise, Lisa does not like micro-management.

She’s a non-conformer

Lisa naturally questions things and does not necessarily conform, just because everyone else does. As such, during induction, it may be beneficial to advise Lisa that you will touch base with her (for example), at the 1 month mark to gain her feedback on her first impressions, things to change and key company policies and procedures. However, in the first instance, it will be important to ensure Lisa is focused on assimilation to the job, building key relationships and learning and performing all the fundamental key tasks. It may also be important to reinforce the non-negotiable processes and approaches that have to stay the same and the level of detail and accuracy that are required in certain parts of the role.

Need to feel involved and to feel important (relative to others)

Finally, Lisa’s profile reveals a strong need for personal power and success, as well as a need for attention and recognition which suggests she will enjoy being privy to important information and being consulted for her views and opinions regarding broader business issues. She may like to be involved in major decisions and will be keen to be a confidant for you and to feel like a really important person in the team.  Ensure that she “dials in” for team meetings at headquarters to stay up to date on key issues, and from time to time, reach out to her to talk over a decision you are pondering, and ask her for her perspective. Give her feedback about how she is going, relative to how you thought she would be going – so at the 6 month mark, think about your expectations and goals you had set for this time juncture, and review her performance against these.

Energy up and Energy Down activities

Lisa is also likely to be drawn to the more high profile aspects of the role, as well as the more intellectual and conceptual aspects of the role, and will find these activities highly motivating. At the same, she may be demotivated by overly practical, routine or administrative tasks. She may need her attention directed to the importance of these aspects if this becomes problematic. Keep in mind that Lisa has the capacity to be entrepreneurial, and can improvise and innovate and will like to use these competencies to feel energized at work. Find opportunities and projects for Lisa to get involved in that are outside of her sales role. Ask her to research ideas, the market or new opportunities and report her ideas to you or the team.  

You can find Virginia on Scale & SwingUcities or on LinkedIn.  Our startup and scaleup clients really value her insights.

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