DILEMMA: I'm off on a four-week sales trip to the US and I'm worried about managing my team long-distance. The schedule is packed and there are big time differences. How will I know what's going on? We've been doing well lately but my tight control and motivational skills have got a lot to do with it. Without me there they're bound to slack.
ISSUES: What's your real concern? The thought that the team will crumble without you, or not knowing what's going on? Why haven't you got anyone to delegate to? Maybe it's really the trip itself that's worrying you, or is your anxiety simply a symptom of overwork? Whatever, it doesn't sound as though your leadership style is keeping pace with the business. The trip could be a great opportunity to change it.
Finding a way to communicate well on the road is essential for any CEO. Good communication is usually down to two things: attitude and plumbing.
The plumbing is easily resolved. For example, are you making the most of the communication tools at your disposal? Can you access your e-mail from all the places you're going? Does your PA filter your e-mails, leaving you with only the essential ones that require information or action? The best CEOs usually have great PAs who are excellent communicators and act as your eyes and ears.
Managing time differences is possible if you plan ahead. Have you scheduled time into your timetable for communicating back home? Will people know where you are? Do you know what you need to know every day, every week and set up a simple process to get it?
As for attitude, motivation isn't real motivation if it only works when you're there. If your staff are looking forward to your going away, ask yourself why? You'll need to delegate, so be clear who's taking on what, make sure everyone knows and set parameters for any key decisions to be taken in your absence.
- Relax, trust your staff. The business is doing well, so you can afford to take a bit of a risk.
- Delegate with clear parameters.
- Plan ahead, and make sure that your staff can get hold of you if they need to.
- High anxiety and control-freak tendencies often go hand in hand with being a CEO. Don't let them consume you.