Students in field

Microsoft manager speaks about remote working and change management

December 3, 2018

One major way in which the work environment has changed over the past few years is in the number of managers and professionals working from their homes or small offices. Often they are employed by larger companies located thousands of miles away.  Jim Lavallee works for Microsoft as Director of Delivery Management from his home here in the Keweenaw.  Lavallee recently spoke to Finlandia business students about remote working. He also spoke about the importance of understanding change management, as a large portion of what managers do is essentially implementing change in their organization.

Remote working requires special communication skills

Remote working allows people the opportunity to live where they want and still have a meaningful rewarding position of employment. However, it does present challenges. Being able to effectively communicate is tops on the list. Lavallee currently has a team of more than a dozen individuals across several states. “One challenge is how to personally connect with co-workers and customers who may be thousands of miles away” Lavallee commented. “Although I work and live here in the U.P., I still end up traveling and meeting with people face to face quite a lot. In addition, I may end up dealing with people from the Ukraine and other countries. Therefore, understanding how to work with different cultures is also important.” So effective communication is a vital job requirement. “Whether it’s customer service or project management, it’s still about people” Lavallee emphasized.

Managing change is key to successful management 

It doesn’t matter if a manager is implementing a new project, launching a new product, or implementing a new strategy or process, it’s essentially change management. Unfortunately, human nature tends to regard change as frightening and the result is often individual or organizational resistance to that change.  Lavellee emphasized that “although change is scary, it’s important to remember that the result is usually something better. This needs to be effectively communicated. Change management is essentially mobilizing people to realize results.” How is this done? “Organizational change requires individual change. Any change at the organizational level is essentially the collective result of individual change.” So communicating the reason behind the change on an individual basis is vitally important.  Lavallee illustrated how to implement change through the ADKAR process of building awareness, creating desire, developing knowledge, fostering ability, and then reinforcing the change.

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