• cyrilmoulinfournier

The 3 lessons I learned working in remote managing crisis

In this period where a lot of companies have been forced due to the #covid19 situation to switch drastically their way of working and collaborating implementing the home office, I think it´s constructive to share my experience working remotely and what I learned from it. 

During my 10 years career journey at #hewlettpackard, I have always been working in remote, almost all of my managers were not on-site (based in Germany, France, Netherlands). Beyond the cultural differences, the major obstacle was first of all distance. 

I´m a socialiser, I like to be close to the people I´m working with, I like to look at them when they talk to me, I find so important to be under the same space to share ideas.

My first job at HP in Barcelona was to manage the printing support delivery operations for South Africa via a service provider located in... Pretoria.

I will never forget the first call conference with this partner, I was new on board, beyond the technical wording of supply chain, I was trying to get what was being discussed, I couldn't see the people. I was frustrated, not easy to start a job in such conditions. But I rapidly realised this would become the standard way to work, to communicate, to deal with potential misunderstandings within the geographical distance.

So I had to switch, see distance as closer, imagine the person would be just sitting behind my desk, without seeing them. Slowly I started to develop soft skills such as:

  • Full listening (concentrated and even closing my eyes was the best way to get the person on the other side despite the distance)

  • Will to accomplish a common goal

We went through business and operational crisis, a hard time, KPIs were in red, I set up a very challenging recovery plan, daily operations meeting to track improvement. And after 3 months, we managed to recover stability but I knew that I had learned a lot from this experience.

I propose you below 3 majors learnings from this crisis:

1.     Trust as a key pillar to sustain any kind of authentic relationship.

During this operational crisis, if we hadn't established trust and empathy between the account manager and myself, we wouldn't have achieved the results we targeted. Trust is something you give others, as a leader you need to create a climate of trust with your team.

2.     Real intention drives engagement and results.

Sincere intention agreed with everyone leads to full commitment, trust, and collaboration. Our intention was to regain stability, customer satisfaction indicators and do everything possible to achieve it, everything!!

3.     Transform obstacles into opportunities.

South Africa is an exciting market, a country I love, where obstacles and complexity are part of the day to day (logistics, country´s size, history and the pain of the past). In such a context I was obliged to think of  thousand solutions, to open doors to new possibilities to make things happen.

In this period where the home office has been established in most of the companies, recall the 3 pillars to help you manage your team :

1.    Trust

2.    Clear intention

3.    Use obstacles to explore new opportunities, new approaches

I want to listen to your experiences, ideas, barriers. It´s time for sharing, for listening to each other. In a crazy time, we need crazy solutions.

The floor is yours!!!


#covid19 #changemanagement #remotemanagement #leadership #crisis #trust

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