Visiting your offsite team
A checklist for the travelling manager
That one week of face-to-face interactions with your offsite team can be worth more than months of on-call meetings and hundreds of emails. OR it can translate to extravagant lunches, inconclusive brainstorming sessions and zero takeways ending in a confused rush of goodbyes.
Which way it goes depends a lot on the build-up to the visit, the way the 'visiting dignitary' conducts himself and the follow-through mechanism he puts in place.
Here are some preparation tips I found useful:
- Know your stakeholders. All of them.
There are going to be a lot of handshakes and names/business cards exchanged. It's going to be hard stitching together names, faces, organizational hierarchy and your topics-to-discuss on the fly. Knowing names (and maybe even faces) gives you a lead in off hand conversations.
- Beware! The Administrative Nightmare.
"How do I get a projector here?". "Say, can someone please call Mr. Verma? My phone's not working here". "I need help ordering sandwiches for the brainstorming session..". Lame. Lame. Lame. There should be someone who can set things up for you before you arrive. If not, make sure you know how to get things done yourself - projector, conference dial in, reserving a room, food and coffee; even a taxi for twenty if you are planning to take the team out for lunch or more.
- So what are you really saying? The core message.
That classic presentation tip works great for offshore visits too - "Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them." Prepare a message for your visit. An unambiguous, concise reason for you dropping by. Let all stakeholders know early up. Reaffirm the message when you address the team. Ensure it is echoed when you wrap up. Helps everyone focus their conversation, ideas and actions on your agenda.
- The cushion.
Conversations with a visiting manager are fertile grounds for new ideas and productive debates. You would be remiss to not allow for space and time for these. Allow a day for unexpected meetings, extended brainstorming or planning sessions, or discussions with your core management/peers about implementing a change. Lay the foundation while you are still in face to face conversations with the team. Saves you weeks later.
- Follow through. Coz out of sight = out of mind.
Arrange follow up conversations for every action item agreed upon. Define checkpoints for long term goals. Document process or team structure changes immediately. These small measures go a long way in reaffirming that you meant business. It also prevents confusion on the ground.
Anything you would add to the list? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: 13 Oct 2015.