Due to the global pandemic situation (Corona virus) we are seeing organizations put limitations on attending training courses, meetings and conferences. The effect this will have on organizations and their employees is significant. One element is that more employees will have to work from home (remotely). Where does that leave the Business Relationship Manager who is dependent on personal interactions, meetings, and discussions. Building relationships is maybe easier face-to-face but it should not affect your work. There are ways around this.
Lots of Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) have done remote work for a long time. They build relationships with key people in the organization through phone, email, text, conference calls, video calls etc. There are BRMs that have never met their business partner in real life. So, it is possible. What do you need to do to be prepared for this remote work?
Good audio is going to be key to be able to work remotely. Invest in a good headset with microphone. The headphones are highly recommended to be able to eliminate echo. The connected microphone is always close to your face which will help in consistent audio quality. If you use a wired headset, make sure the cable is long enough. It is so much easier to grab something from your desk. Make sure your environment is quiet, and make the mute button your friend.
Video can help with non-verbal communication but is not always necessary. Use it during introductions for instance but you do not have to have it on the whole time. It does help with your attention, when you know other people are watching you. One of the challenges is going to be bandwidth. This article describes a huge increase in traffic on the backbone of the Cisco network. Be prepared that video will slow things down and might not always be suitable.
Remote work is the time where it becomes really important to have active listening skills. Take away all your distractions when you are on a call, just listen to the people on the call. Summarize on different perspectives and clarify what was discussed. Clearly set action items and communicate those. If you have video use hand signals to show you are listening. This is a great example of a way to agree upon hand signals. Don’t use audio cues, it often interferes with the audio for yourself and your team.
Active listening in an audio call is more difficult than in a face-to-face meeting. You need time away to be able to recharge. Humans have a limited attention span. Make sure you build slightly shorter meetings (45 min) or have breaks in between. When we do our BRM Professional online courses we do 3 hour sessions with two 10 min breaks in between. It keeps everyone fresh.
Relationship Improvement Strategy
When you work remotely as a BRM it is even more important to have clear relationship strategies and improvement plans. Because you will not see people and be reminded you need to talk to them, you will have to make it a specific action. How are you going to get that 5 min meeting with an executive that you would normally see when you would walk past their office? Figure out their preferred way of communicating for quick questions, build that into your plan. Check in a little bit more frequent through different channels with your key business partners to see how they are doing. Stay in touch but be very purposeful with your communication.
Communication is always an issue, but now it becomes even more clear to ensure the conversation is understood by everyone. Make sure you clearly capture action items, clarify what the context is of the communication and it is provided in different styles to ensure it is received by the audience.
You can be a successful BRM working remotely. This might be a great opportunity to enhance your skill sets in this area. See it as a learning opportunity not a barrier.
All our courses are available as online courses, we will be able to make this a great experience for your team. Contact us if you want more information.
Be safe and wash your hands frequently.