6 tips to modify how you manage in murky times

Most of us are slowly adjusting to working from home. But, if you manage a team, you have an additional challenge to face and adjustments to make to keep engagement levels high. If you’re not changing how you communicate with and manage your now-virtual team, you may be risking a declining company culture, poor performance, and low job satisfaction.

These six tips may help:

  1. Manage expectations (yours and theirs)
    Recognize that sometimes remote workers actually end up working more hours than they would if they were in an office with the team. They may work odd additional hours in the early morning or late at night. They may not take as many or as long breaks. Don’t expect your team to be fully accessible 24/7 unless that has been your culture preceding the pandemic.
  2. Communicate consistently
    Schedule weekly all-team video conferences as an opportunity to connect on a friendly and professional level; discuss the week’s priorities, and see and hear from each team member. Don’t skip these meetings even if some weeks they are only a few minutes. Project management platforms like Slack are a great tool to keep project groups highly connected.
  3. Trust your team
    Managing a virtual team of remote workers requires trust. You’re not seeing them as much as when you worked in the same office, but that is no reason to think they are not accomplishing what’s needed. If you’re having weekly video conferences and one-on-one check-ins, you can trust that people are getting done what they need to get done. You probably knew the caliber of each employee’s work pre-stay-at-home. There is no reason to think work ethics and standards have disintegrated. We’re all adults, right?
  4. Cultivate accountability
    There are inherent challenges in managing people remotely and trying to hold them accountable. Be clear delegating projects, deliverables, and due dates. Request updates on the weekly team calls, but be sure to let team members know ahead of time that they will be called on. One-on-one phone calls or video conferences can also help stay connect – not micromanage – remote employees.
  5. Foster personal connections
    Remote working can be isolating and may weaken your company’s culture. Take the time and extra effort to reach out and maintain personal connections, both individually and as a team. Send individual messages to see how an employee’s weekend DIY project came out. Invite the team for a Virtual Happy Hour.  Acknowledge and virtually celebrate birthdays!
  6. Practice understanding
    The pandemic and stay-at-home directives are causing most of us to feel scared, fearful, and anxious. Many employees are homeschooling; co-working with a spouse working from home; facing financial pressure, and perhaps not having all the equipment they need to perform like they do at the office. Not to mention literal pains in the neck from less than ergonomic home work stations. Your understanding of employees’ angst is important. Being as flexible and understanding is critical to being a good manager. Offer support: an ear to listen, flexibility with assignments if possible, and hand-on help with projects. Maybe a bonus mental health day is in order? Remember, remote working can feel isolating, especially when we are practicing social distancing. Check-in with team members individually. See what challenges they may be facing and determine together how to help. Make them feel acknowledged and appreciated. It’s important to publicly acknowledge that people are doing a good job – maybe in a staff email or video conference.

Team coaching experts Pyramid Resource Group have lots of tips. Here are two of our favorites:

Innovate now
Start an innovation group for scenario planning. Ask people to design what-if scenarios to address everything from another pandemic to how to get to the market with goods and services in the aftermath. Each group can address one to three challenges and take a deep dive. In our Team Advantage program, we teach leaders and teams to do a Fast Forward Focus – project themselves into the next 4 -6 months and come up with a list of everything they can think of that might stop them from succeeding. They take that list and identify at least three actions they can take now to get ahead of the curve. This does a couple of things – it gets people involved in solutions, which is engaging… and it keeps them focused on a future state which compels them into best actions.

Codify new norms
The world was changing and this time became an inflection point –advanced technology, AI, global marketplace has been deconstructed or accelerated depending on your vantage point. This is a time for change leadership. Realize there is no going back to normal – whatever that meant to you. There is only going forward to innovative new ways of working together and you can codify those into new norms. You get to create together from here. Begin now to make a list of what will new normal include? Consider the qualities that served you during this time. Brand your new ways of working.

 

We’d love to hear your tips for staying engaged while working remotely. Please comment!



Deneen Winters Bloom
Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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