This made me think of when I managed teams that were geographically and functionally distributed. Keeping up with the team was the biggest challenge. For example, I found that if I didn't speak to a team member over a 2 week span, then it would take me 4 weeks to catch up. This would mean that I could be making important decisions based upon stale information.
So I thought there could be value in providing a list of ways to stay informed:
- Activity Reports: Tomorrow is the end of a month and in some organizations I can already hear emails being typed. Messages reminding people to produce and file the Monthly Report. Theses are also known as Red/Yellow/Green, Wins/Losses, Activity Reports etc... Sometimes the report is a Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet in others it's a custom application or part of a sophisticated CRM system. But the end game is the same - to identify and communicate issues and opportunities within a team and up the chain of command;
- Sharing Calendars: Being able to view the calendars of your team members helps to stay connected. In a low tech company this could be a simple as photocopying schedules. In the opposite scenario you grant your team the rights to view your calendar. Normally the best way to say informed is to look 4 weeks back and 4 weeks forward;
- Sunday Night Email: I worked for a manager that asked for an email every Sunday night with a bulletted list of goals and activities for the week. My business partner in China does this with his Chinese based teams when he travels. He find this to be a very effective way of knowing what's going on;
- Biweekly "One on One" Discussions and Team Meetings are the traditional way to exchange information and gain status updates on initiatives. Using an Instant Messaging program is a good way hold these meetings when traveling;