Transportation and delivery companies are very aware of safe practices and constantly look for ways to remind their drivers to maintain a safe awareness when driving and when stopped. One of the acronyms that has been used for drivers pulling out of a space is GOAL. It stands for “get out and look”. In other words, before moving in your delivery van or truck, make sure you know what is going on around you, in particular what is behind you before you back up. In neighborhoods, a child on a bicycle may have come up behind you while you were away from your vehicle, or a car may have parked near you. Even something like a tree branch may have moved or changed while you were stopped. So to be a safe driver, when there is any doubt, “get out and look.”
This is good advice for managers as well. Many managers today are managing remote workforces in multiple locations. There are a number of modern ways to communicate with the staff. E-mail and phones seem almost old-fashioned in the world of web conferences, internet cameras, desktop sharing; not to mention instant messaging, texting and a host of social media platforms.
It is finally possible to approach the level of over communication, certainly getting to a communication level of volume that the communication itself becomes a form of background noise. Who among the readers of this do not have at least 25 to 50 email’s in their inbox at this moment?
However, managers are missing an important aspect of communication when depending solely on electronic means. That is the proxemics of the environment that employees are working in and their reactions to work in nonverbal cues.
There is only one way to hone in on the subtle clues of what is truly happening in a location and that is “Get Out and Look!”
Much can be determined in a physical visit to a remote location. A visit will engage all five senses and will enable the manager to divine a true picture of what is happening in the work place.
Issues around space can be sized up in minutes. Understanding an employee disagreement could be instantaneous when work areas are looked at. Smells, sounds and light all contribute to productivity. Complaints about heat, cold, noise, drips, lighting can be observed and addressed.
More importantly, and needless to say, more profitably, is the ability to observe employee work in its natural setting. Are the employees following company procedure? Are they taking shortcuts to that procedure? Is their phone technique up to standard? Do they properly handle office procedure, visitor protocol? Are they following safety rules? In the warehouse or plant is equipment correctly used and dispersed?
Any number of questions can be answered with a personal visit. However, it is a two way street. A visit can answer employee questions, build morale, set procedures in motion, allow for observation of up and coming employees.
Finally, do yourself a favor, plan on staying for a while. People naturally change their behavior for a short period to appear to be in compliance. The longer you stay the more natural they become. Day 3 will be more valuable for your observations than day 1.
Plan a visit to your remote locations soon and start reaping the rewards of being a savvy manager!