On December 13, 2010, Shelley Fralic, of the Vancouver Sun, reported that Angus-Reid, one of Canada’s leading public opinion surveyors, determined that of the 500 Canadian small businesses they surveyed, 66% had off-site employees and that 61% reported increased productivity from those employees. Ms. Fralic also cited StatsCan who stated that in 2008 about 1.8 million or 11.2% of the entire Canadian workforce telecommutes – not bad for a large geographically challenged country with a small population of taxpaying workers.
While it is clear that Canadian small business is an agile and smart adopter of better ideas in the workforce, the reality is that today’s telecommuter should choose his or her mentor from the vast selection of American corporations whose processes have weathered the hardest of challenges and are now reliable and robust. Huge multinationals such as J.P Morgan Chase, Boeing, and Ford have leading manager awareness programs around telecommuting. Many others share the spotlight; Apple, Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal, Comcast, GE, Time Warner, Pitney Bowes, UnitedHealth Group, American Express, Aetna, MetLife, Wellpoint, Microsoft, Nielsen, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, and Hilton are but a few of the top drivers in the American economy which support a robust telecommuting component in their workforce.
Underneath this strength lay the outsourcing paradigm. Originally seen as a corporate tax grab under Bush, outsourcing has matured and given advantages to all workers in the area of telecommuting. The silver lining in the cloud of American job loss is that there now exists seasoned processes to handle employees who do not work at the same location as their team or their managers. Today, employees can plug into that framework with much less resistance than they encountered ten years ago.
What your manager wants
Managers today are trained to handle the complexities of directing the workloads of remote employees. They understand how to use the correct keys to measure a telecommuter’s tele-commitment. Of the few critical and critical factors that I will discuss in this series, it is this first one that matters most. It sets the foundation for your measurement.
Despite the many variations on the theme, bosses start with your SMART goals. Now an industry standard, the ability to define goals that include Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensitive components will provide the framework you need as a telecommuter. The more time you spend up front refining these, the better your experience will be and the more likely you will continue towards your career goals.
If you are not familiar with SMART goals, you should know you are living on a whisper which will fade and take you with it. You will not last as a professional. If you think you don’t need SMART goals, then you don’t even need to finish reading this article because you don’t have the drive you need to be a professional while telecommuting.
But for those who want to be a professional, start with your SMART goals. Make yourself an expert in this area, read, write, practice and discuss them. It sounds easy but it is not, and everyone who masters this is a master because they did the work. As a telecommuter, you need to join the other professionals in this group of leaders. There is plenty of information on this subject around, search for it, clean out the crap, hang onto the good stuff and devour it until you dream about it. Take ET’s advice and “BE GOOD” – at being SMART.
Despite all the well-intentioned advice available, if you don’t get this right, you have nothing other than fairy dust supporting your work life so suck it up and become an expert. Your boss will love the results this produces.
LET SMART INFORM YOU
SMART goals will make you think differently about your time, your contributions and your abilities. They will guide you into your strengths and weaknesses and set your path towards success, informing you by forming your inner core. If you aren’t good at setting, refining, monitoring and adjusting your SMART goals, you will fail. You may keep your job, but you will be as disgruntled as your Dilbert devouring friends who remain in the cubicle farm.
Ignoring this process, even if your Dilbert buddies gloss over it, is not an option for you as a telecommuting professional. Take it seriously, and it will set up the frame of reference for all your work. It will make you stand out as exceptional despite the fact you may be laying on a lawn chaise while you work SMART on your iPad. Do this well, and you will succeed and more importantly advance while working outside the office.
ON THIS ONE YOU MUST LEAD
I want to caution you against being a follower here. On this, you must lead even if you are not a leader. Also if your manager tells you she or he does not place a high value on these goals, do it anyway. Lead yourself – your manager will change, and you must be more significant than you were when you first reported to him.
Over my career, I changed managers more often than Murphy Brown changed secretaries and each time the door revolved I became a key player on the team because I was a professional, a professional who was no smarter than his SMART goals. Thankfully, my SMART goals were smart. Trust me. Start here, and you will be as comfortable leading from Starbucks as you are when you are flown in to spend time in a meeting room.