This article is intended for people who Work From Home and want to better prove their value to their peers, management, clients, and company.
Main Reasons for Proving Your Value
Perhaps you want to connect better with other internal and external stakeholders because you:
- Are empathetic and care;
- Want to increase your job security;
- Are positioning yourself for a promotion or greater leadership responsibilities;
- Want to be a model employee or leader;
- Are focused on improving business outcomes for your firm;
- Struggle with demonstrating remote work leadership cadence and want help.
Whatever your aims, this article is here to be of assistance. Just like when your office was in a building, remote work is about doing good work: having an impact, adding value, and communicating well with others. Just like with “traditional” office work you will want to show up and be present. Virtual engagement (especially when all other participants are virtual) can at times feel odd. Proper engagement and helping other stakeholders realize that they are on the same page can be a challenge; nevertheless, you should learn these skills. Here are 4 Ways To Prove Your Value To Your Remote Colleagues and Management:
One way to develop rapport, and to prove your value, is to show initiative. By putting forth additional effort to jump start work-flows, kick off meetings, or drive value through out of the box thinking, you can better show your unique contributions. Here is some very practical advice about showing initiative in a virtual meeting.
- Off-screen have ALL the drinks and snacks to stay alert. Don’t eat on camera.
- Be punctual.
- Have good lighting and ensure that background noises are very minimal.
- If you get up to use the restroom, notify those in your meetings you need to step away briefly, mute the audio AND camera.
- Content can move fast virtually, check-in A LOT to ensure you are understanding key takeaways.
- Ensure everyone has their camera on and knows to mute unless they are going to speak.
I have been in countless meetings where these rules are violated. People eat on camera or allow heavy background noise because they are not muted when not talking. This disrupts the flow of meetings and creates communication friction. The very simple actions outlined above can provide more gravitas when you communicate and will foster a better meeting culture. Inspire your colleagues and show them these simple steps so they too can improve and follow your lead.
Build a community with communication and documentation.
Remote work is not for everyone. Obviously this is the case or many more of us would have selected this career path before the COVID19 quarantine. But working from home is now a necessity for many of us – and for many others it will become a new normal. Many remote workers will feel anxiety and stress which is caused by social isolation when working from home for long periods of time. To help these colleagues, build community: enable Slack channels, email distribution groups, or other office virtual settings to bring people together. Build a community that you would want to join and others will follow.
In addition to work-related channels, social channels and rituals in Slack become the “water-cooler” and “happy hour” of healthy remote teams. Not only will these virtual social environments help your colleagues and peers, but they will show others that you can solve problems. The lack of a community is hard for many and by building out community functions online you can solve problems that others have.
Make sure to treat everyone equally and to treat all people well. Don’t treat remote workers in one country or region differently than remote staff elsewhere. Don’t make one group of staff take meetings at consistently unfavorable hours that are beneficial to another group. Treat throughput as the core metric and focus on delivery. Make sure you deliver results. Others will notice. Lastly, focus on producing excellent documentation. Take notes and share these notes. If you can’t take notes or don’t have a managerial role, make sure a colleague can take and distribute notes. This not only ensures everyone is on the same but provides evidence of decisions made. This is an accountability check that is important for moving communities forward. By building a community you are adding value. And that is important.
Network and build relationships
You may have found that the circle of people you communicate with has narrowed when working from home. Whilst this narrowed list can be helpful for concentrating on individual work, it is also vital to maintain your established network within the team, business, or broader market. This is critical when working remotely for long periods of time.
Networking will encourage you to take care of your working relationships: develop understanding of the work of your colleagues, hear what others are doing in the business, and improve your imagination by broadening your perspective. The good news is that with a level playing field across locations everyone is in the same communication boat.
Talk about the health of your network and connect with people. Are there any relationships that warrant additional attention? Will you have any information blindspots? Think about how important each of your colleagues would be in a discussion; reflect on the constraints of your business and how your network can help drive your business forward. Make it about personal engagement. Let your peers know that you are there for them. Follow up. Be present. Be a problem solver.
Have an empathetic mindset
Here are some thoughtful questions you can ask to help create bonds between you and your remote peers.
Comprehend what each person at home is dealing with. Gain comprehension by being a sounding board. Do they have a support system? Can they get the supplies and services they need? Stay in touch every single week. Just because yesterday someone was all right, it doesn’t mean today they are all right. Make sure you are present to help where appropriate. Be curious, not judgemental. It’s okay to reveal your own shortcomings or pain. Demonstrate grace and thoughtfulness to your colleagues.
Moreover, if you are demonstrating value remotely, make sure you can blend empathy with alignment on goals and outcomes. Clearly communicate what you are working on and why. Explain why that remains your focus. You can align the conversation of work and empathy by asking questions that demonstrate outward compassion. For example: how are we working to help the clients that need our product or service? In what ways can we add value to others in our community or who rely on the firm? What other goals should we accomplish this week or month or quarter to best empower our broader organization?
The steps outlined above will not only help you prove your value but they will make you a better mentor, coach, employee, and manager. My mother used to say “good manners are always in fashion”. Likewise with this list above: show initiative, build community, network, and be empathetic. These traits will always serve you well but in particular as a remote worker demonstrating value from afar.