The Way We Work
February 14, 2011 by Guest Blogger

By: Steve Bynghall

Doctor Who is the longest running science-fiction TV show in the world. The Time Lord has been fighting aliens ever since he first hit British television screens in 1963, and he's more popular today than he's ever been. So, we’ve tapped into the wisdom of the time-travelling doctor to help you create similar success for your business when working with remote contractors.

Here are five pieces of remote team management advice straight from BBC's famous Doctor Who:

1. “The localized condition of planetary atmospheric condensation caused a malfunction in the visual orientation circuits. Or, to put it another way: We got lost in the fog.”

Advice: Clear and direct communication is vital to avoiding misunderstandings, particularly if you speak different first languages. Write or speak in simple terms, avoiding big words and euphemisms, which can easily be misunderstood.

2. “You know how it is. You put things off for a day and, before you know it, it's a hundred years later.”

Advice: Effective management includes having deadlines and milestones for assigned tasks. These can make or break your work. If you are clear about nothing else, be clear about when you want the work completed or your work may take a backseat to someone else's.

3. “Gosh that takes me back ... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell.”

Advice: Everything from your conference call times to deadlines will be affected by the time zone differences between you and each of your contractors. Pay close attention to how far ahead (or behind) your contractors are from you, and when you communicate dates and times, be clear about whose time zone you mean -- yours or theirs.

doctor who one4. "Do you wanna come with me? 'Cause if you do then I should warn you, you're gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; aliens from the future; the day the earth died in a ball of flame ... It won't be quiet, it won't be safe, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime."

Advice: Be clear upfront about the details of the work you need done. And don't forget to sell the position during the job posting and the interview, so that the person you hire is excited and enthusiastic about joining your team and working with you.

5. “Nothing is ever forgotten. Not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”

Advice: Online feedback lives on indefinitely, and for contractors it can affect their reputation and their ability to get work in the future. Be sure to think carefully about the entire process (from hire to completion) in assessing their work, and consider how your communication, direction and overall management may have affected the relationship. Be honest and clear in the areas of success and improvement, and remember that your online feedback left today will live on tomorrow.

What do you think? Are there any other TV characters who could give good business advice? Let us know in the comments below!