By Robby Slaughter
As leaders, we must be acutely aware of the differences in personality between individuals—including ourselves. Emotional intelligence is being conscious of how feelings and beliefs impact the choices that people make, and having control over how we decide to react. One of the best ways to better understand someone’s personality is to interact with them as a telecommuter.
The reason this works so well is that it allows us to separate the types of communication and interactions to make them more intentional. When we’re talking with someone face-to-face, we can read their body language. We can see their smiles and frowns. We know a bit about where they are even if we don’t know precisely what’s going on.
Furthermore, working side-by-side with someone is usually about putting in the time as much as it is generating the results. If someone shows up early and leaves after everyone else, we’re likely to characterize them as a hard worker (even though they might just be inefficient.) People who tell jokes and bring donuts are often well-liked, but may not be all that productive.
If someone starts telecommuting, you’re going to learn a great deal about their work ethic. Are they a self-starter, or are they someone who needs to be reminded to get things done? Are they capable of keeping a schedule and meeting deadlines, or do they need to structure of an office and official working hours in order to be effective?
You’ll also learn about their level of emotional intelligence. It requires considerable discipline to be able to solve interpersonal disputes and deal with unreasonable behavior when you don’t have the advantage of meeting in person to hash things out. When working remotely, you have to calm yourself down. If you’re managing a telecommuter, you get to see their level of maturity in a new light.
That’s not to say that people who prefer working remotely are necessarily better workers. But rather, a great way to learn about the personality of your team is to see what they do when no one is watching and there is no office for them to visit. And if someone does prefer to come in to a shared workspace most days, that’s fine too. You are likely to better understand who they are and how they think after seeing their work and their behavior in both contexts.
And for more tips on managing your remote teams, check out our upcoming session on How Leaders Create and Manage Remote Teams here.
About the Author
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. Robby runs a business improvement consulting company. His focus is helping organizations and individuals to become more efficient, more effective and more satisfied at work. Robby is a regular contributor in several regional magazines and has been interviewed by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His latest book is The Unbeatable Recipe for Networking Events. You can read more and see a complete list of books here.