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One of my directs and his four teams sit in a different building on the other side of campus.  It takes ten minutes to get from my desk to his.  The trip includes impossible parking and two security checks.  Not difficult, just annoying.

First, should I allow a phone or webcam one-on-one?  So far I have required face-to-face in my office.  I could rotate to his office every other week, but I like the automatic location - nobody arrives at an empty office.  

Second, should I allow the distant direct to call in for my staff meeting?  So far I have required him to attend in person in the conference room next to my office.  My distant direct does have a conference room we could use, but again I like the consistency of location.  

Third, I have been scheduling 2-4 hours per week to sit "over there."  This time is not for a scheduled meeting, rather for me to sit in an open cubicle and do work.  The value I have seen so far is 1) face-to-face work questions from my direct and 2) random hallway conversations with my skips and their directs.  This time has not been effective for "doing work" but does create conversations - which is step one toward my real goal of relationships.  The questions: Should I sit "over there" at a regular time (every Wed from 8-noon for example) or keep it sporadic as I have been doing for the last month or does it matter?  Will there come a point of diminishing return?  I was originally planning on doing this for only a few months, but after a month I am inclined to make it permanent.  Should I purposely schedule my time there to coincide with lunch?  

I don't know if this is relevant, but my three other directs sit on the same floor as me and their offices are between my office and the kitchen.  Even on a day when we have no meetings together, we are sure to bump into each and say hi.  I have been following the guidance of a daily phone call (or pretty close), but have not yet implemented more frequent updates.

JonathanGiglio's picture

I believe the cast guidance mentions that there is research saying that even being on a seperate floor is no different than being across the country. Of course one-on-ones over the phone/webcam are better than nothing, but face to face is best of all.

As I direct, I crave positive boss interactions. It doesn't sound like you're going over there to "keep an eye on them", which is a good thing. The purpose of you being there is to do the minor course correcting to make sure your team is effective.

It's tricky as to where to hold the meetings. I'd be inclined not to move them as I wouldn't want to move an entire meeting just for a single direct.

I think the compromise is to rotate the one-on-ones to the direct's location and keep your staff meeting at your own.

Honestly - it really sounds like you're on the right track. I know you have other challenges, but the first thing is to "know thy self" and understand where you are and the direction you need to take the team/organization.

katehorstman's picture

Might I suggest two possible options?

First, would it be possible to move your One on One with this direct to right after the staff meeting? Or even right before. This would require the direct to only travel once a week to your building. It would also continue to allow face to face One on Ones. As far as calling in, I agree with in person attendance for the staff meeting. The benefits you’re reaping from visiting his side of the campus are something he can probably benefit from by traveling to you. 

Second option is to have phone or webcam One on Ones with your direct while still requiring that they attend your staff meeting in person. For a thirty-minute meeting, twenty minutes travel time is a lot. But for a staff meeting (which I've assumed is longer) that time is better spent. This is a bit of a compromise. We often say "dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I think that this applies here- a webcam or phone One on One is perfectly acceptable for remote directs.

If you are seeing positive results from sitting across campus, I would suggest continuing. If your schedules allow, perhaps once a month move your One on One with this direct over there while you’re there. I do think that scheduling your time over there would be helpful for yourself and your directs and team. Knowing when you might be available would allow for them to schedule time with you or better plan their week. And it might make all the moving around easier on you. 

Hope this helps,

Kate