Illustration of people working remotely
By Holly Maine May 29 2020 Blog

Working From Home 101: Communicating with Your Manager

Effective communication is one of the most important soft skills you can have in our industry. But even for the best communicators, challenges arise when transitioning from communicating in-person to communicating virtually.

On that note, I wanted to share some tips, tricks and suggestions on how to best communicate with your manager while you’re working remotely. Ready? Let’s do this!

Stick to your check-in schedule

Now more than ever, you’ll want and need this time together. Make sure you have an agenda for each meeting so that you can use the time effectively and efficiently.

I’ve always found it helpful to wrap up my 1-on-1 with a quick recap of the call so that both my manager and I are clear on what we’ve discussed and any next-step action items.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more than one weekly check-in

Many of us take for granted the tremendous amount of information that’s shared when we’re physically in the same office: quick chats in the hall, popping into your managers office, turning to your left or right to ask a question, etc!

This loss of ease might have you feeling like you need more frequent chats with your manager. If this sounds like you, ask for the time you need!

Decide which channels work best for you and your manager

Between email, Zoom, phone, video, text, Teams, Slack and more, we have access to  so many ways to communicate.

Take the time to assess what works best for you and your manager. Try to avoid falling into the trap of rapid-fire communication across every tool you have access to. The goal here is to streamline communication, not to make it chaotic or cause confusion.

Be mindful of tone

If you’ve made it this far into my blog post, I may have inadvertently confused, offended, or bored you. Please understand, it wasn’t intentional!

See what I did there? The point is that there is a lot of room for misinterpretation when we communicate via email. So, try to be as clear and concise as possible, and don’t take things personally if you’re on the receiving end of an email that doesn’t sit quite right with you.

Sometimes it helps if you insert some personality into emails to help set the right tone: .gifs, emoji’s, etc. 😊

Use the 3X rule for emails

If you exchange 3 emails on the same topic, STOP. You are not communicating clearly. Ask to hop on the phone or if it’s not time sensitive, add it to your check-in agenda.

Say thank you at the end of each week

This one applies to not just your manager but your entire team: Thank them for their hard work, for their generosity, for their understanding…we’re all in this thing together!

But enough from me—here’s what a few of my coworkers had to say!

“More frequent 1-on-1s. Come to the 1-on-1 with an agenda to discuss with your manager.” —Alana Putterman

“Use texting for an immediate concern. Use email for things that you have more time. Over-communicating is key—sharing both what does and doesn’t work to get feedback.” – David Lempp

“Be transparent and over-communicate. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to set some expectations on WFH with them, your schedule and the best way to reach each other. Get regular weekly 1-on-1s on your calendar if you don’t already have them scheduled. Come prepared with questions, updates, challenges and wins.” —Kelly Wittmann

“I will always go on Teams in the morning and just say, “Hey,” to my manager and teammates. It lets them know I’m here and alive, also starts a conversation if necessary.” —Michael Lagioia

“Speak to them about the best way to communicate daily (text, IM, email, call, etc.). Share your goals, priorities and deadlines upfront on a weekly 1-on-1 call. Don’t make assumptions, if you have questions or feel unsure just use the phone and actually speak with them.” —Kami Lentz

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