I was nervous about asking the question.
But there was no getting around it.
Either I ask and discover the answer, or I keet it to myself and allow the mystery to eat away at me.
Unsure of how it’d go down, I booked the 1-1 and prepared.
Me: In October, I need to spend some weeks with my family in the UK
Him: OK …
Me: I know that we don’t usually spend more than a few days working remotely. However, since this particular time is isolated and won’t be repeated, I’m hoping we can agree on how I can manage this, plus my current workload
Him: I’m open to ideas. What do you suggest?
Me: I can take two weeks as annual leave and work from home for the other two
Him: I can’t see any way that I can support that. Two weeks working remotely will definitely impact your projects.
Me: How do you see this impacting my projects? All of my project teams are located in different countries to me. We connect online or by phone, so technically, I can work from anywhere with a phone and internet connection, no?
Him: Technically, this is true. However, we just don’t support working from home for that length of time. If you’re not physically in the office, how do I know you’re really working?
His words hit me like a knife to the gut. Or groin. Or whatever body part the knife could crush the most.
Aside from the lack of logic to what he was saying, it was the lack of trust that hurt.
And I mean, really hurt.
There I was, a project manager, successfully running multiple projects with multiple teams across multiple time zones (did you pick up on the multiple?) and I felt like I was being treated like a child.
In this situation, out of sight meant out of control.
And the job started feeling like a prison sentence.
The money, travel, colleagues and perks didn’t mean a thing if I didn’t feel respected or free.
Freedom: my biggest value.
Trample on that and lose my loyalty.
So I stepped to building my side business more and eventually left the job to work on my own full time.
The entire experience not only influenced me to re-evaluate what was important to me, but begged the question:
How do you build loyalty and trust with a team that isn’t physically in the same location?
It isn’t just about allowing your team to deliver, keeping contact through the latest technology, or creating a virtual watercooler … there’s more to it.
It’s about different levels of trust, earning loyalty and addressing your own development as a leader in the process.
Stig Villadsen, project and team strategy expert, knows more than a thing or two about how project teams can be motivated to reach the same goal, and how to effectively lead a virtual team to success.
Stig joined Olivier and I for the Masks Off podcast and talked to us about:
- Why project management qualifications fail (we’re looking at you, Prince2 & PMP) and the skills you can focus on instead
- The most effective way to manage virtual project teams to act like in-person teams (when you’re not their line manager)
- Why trust can be difficult to build in virtual teams, and how to use technology to your advantage
Click here to watch the interview with Stig.
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