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Being Radically Candid with people in remote offices

We received this question from one of our readers:

Are there any key things to keep in mind when being Radically Candid with people who aren’t in your office?  I want to make sure I’m being thoughtful about those team members specifically who I don’t see face to face.

– A Reader

My thoughts:

1) Talk over video conference to people in remote offices more frequently, ideally every day even if just for 5-10 minutes. When you are physically present, you walk by somebody and see what their mental state is without even trying. (They are dragging, they look depressed, they seem in high spirits.) You have to make a conscious effort to get this information from remote reports.

2) Once in a while work in a different time zone. In other words, if you are in NY, work CA hours one day every two weeks or so, and schedule more and longer meetings. Have virtual “drinks” with people. It’s 5 in NY but 2 in CA? No worries, pop a beer together, it’s ok because the person in CA has been virtually in NY time zone. This is weird but it is way more efficient than actual travel and it gives you 75% of the benefit. (I learned this when I was pregnant and couldn’t travel)

3) Use video technology. Make sure when you are talking to somebody in a remote office, you use video as much as possible. Phone is #2. Email and chat are last resorts. Set yourself and them up well. I went so far as to set up always on high speed video connections in break rooms between various offices. With google hangouts you could include multiple locations, not just 2 way.

4) Take virtual walks together. An exception to video is to suggest walking 1:1. You take a nice walk where you are, the person in remote office takes a nice walk where they are. You are both out and about and talking. Can be a friendly, open-ended conversation.

5) Figure out how to make people in remote offices more visible to people in HQ. If there’s a big meeting and one person is on video, be extra conscious of how hard it is to break into a conversation over video. Ask them what they think every so often. Also, fly people in remote offices to HQ as frequently as works for them and your travel budget. And make sure they are in front of your boss’s boss when they are out.

Kim Scott

Kim Scott is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss without Losing your Humanity and the co-founder of Radical Candor LLC. A former CEO coach for several tech companies, including Dropbox, Qualtrics and Twitter, she has also managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow. In addition to Radical Candor, she is the author of three novels and the forthcoming leadership book Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair, available March 16, 2021 from St. Martin’s Press.