Managing an off-site sales team
Here are five things that you need to keep in mind when managing an off-site sales team.
The first thing that you need to think about when it comes to off-site sales teams is that there is going to come a time when conflict arises, basically you are going to have team members who are at each other's throats, whether they are onsite or off-site. So what you need to know is that when conflict does arise you as a manager are going to need to address the problem directly. What you are going to need to do is to take stock of the composition of the team, the assignments and anything else that is causing the current problems or even future problems that you can foresee. But you can also make sure that you get the all of the team members suggestions on what you can do to help improve the situation, basically how to solve the problem.
You can also make sure that you keep in touch with your team members by email. You can actually set up rules about when you want to hear from your team members or you can have an open door policy about emailing. But something that you need to know is that email is great for quick and routine matters, but if it is something serious or sensitive then email shouldn't be used. You are going to need to talk to that employee on the phone or even in person. The reason that emails shouldn't be used for more severe problems or any senstitive issues is that careless writing and even outright malice when using email can cause a minor mix-up to spin way out of control, hence causing even more problems that what you had before. In fact if you are going to be using email you are going to want to make sure your employees understand email etiquette so that things don't get taken the wrong way.
If you happen to be an older manager, but this is actually important for all managers, you should take a course that teaches you about the various issues that can come up in managing an alternative workplace; basically you should receive special training about how to oversee an alternative workplace. The reason for this is that dealing with an offsite team can require special needs that you are unsure of how to address. For example, off-site employees might require you to use an appropriate type of media to stay in contact with them, such as email or video conferencing, but you will need to help them and help yourself use this type of media to make them feel like they are a part of the team.
Another thing that you need to think about is appropriateness when it comes to choosing people to receive choice assignments or invitations to meetings. But in addition to appropriateness you also need to think about accessibility. Basically you don't want to get favor the off-site employees who come into the office more than other off-site employees. The reason for this is that it is showing favoritism and that is going to lead to a whole bunch of trouble, and as a manager you should be above showing favorites with employees.
The most important thing that you need to realize is that managing people off-site requires even more management to maintain that personal contact, basically you are going to need to go above and beyond your normal managing skills to keep in contact with these people because of how alone they tend to be. The reason for this is that you are going to want to make sure that they feel connected as well as the people who are in the office. Basically you want everyone working together as a team no matter where they are located. The best thing that you can do to accomplish this goal is to have regular face-to-face meetings and scheduled social events to help keep everyone connected.