COVID-19 Resources – Suddenly Managing Remotely!
This is for anyone who DOES NOT NORMALLY MANAGE A FULLY REMOTE TEAM. Many of us have not only found ourselves working from home but trying to lead a team all of whom are also home, distracted, worried and unaccustomed to operating this way. And let’s be honest, any part-time remote or “flex” work arrangements we’ve managed previously, DID NOT PREPARE US for remote management a la Coronavirus.
Below are some recommended management adjustments any manager can make to improve team engagement and productivity. Your goal: find a few adjustments you can make to be a more effective manager in your current circumstance. Do not try to do it all. Focus on those challenges that seem to be affecting your team the most.
The challenge listed below were identified based on calls from dozens of managers seeking assistance since the beginning of March 2020. You are not alone in this. If you would like additional support contact MINES and Associates for a confidential manager or supervisor consultation:
- Accept that remote management today requires 2 or 3 “X” the amount of time. If management was 25% of your time, it needs to be 50-70% of your time.
- Reassess your own workload to focus on the needs of your team. Maximize enablement.
Focus and meaning
- Reassess what is critical work and narrow priorities. Most organizations are slowing or stopping non-critical work.
- Reinforce old and clarify new assignments. Be precise.
- If not self-evident, clarify what collaboration is needed among team members.
- Take extra time to highlight the importance of everyone’s work. People need purpose and clarity in uncertain times.
- This cannot be overdone, and it takes time. If something is important:
- Say it in group meetings (Zoom, Google Hangout, conference calls, etc.),
- Document in follow-up group emails so everyone sees the same thing, and then…
- Touch base with individuals to make sure they are in agreement.
- Assume you need to do twice the outreach to keep people connected.
- Set two-way follow up expectations by asking “when will I hear from you on this?” and by telling colleagues when you will get back to them (and then do it).
Let them be excellent
- Once you have established priorities, timelines and follow up plans… get out of the way.
- Offer yourself to troubleshoot and assist, but to the extent possible, do NOT reenter the work. Remember to follow up. Read Feedback next.
- Remote management will ensure the quick death of employee engagement and motivation, and you’ll just bring things to a crawl.
- Be deliberate in giving feedback. Especially good feedback. It gives the work meaning and makes the lonely efforts worth it. All the usual indicators of where someone stands are missing so it needs to come from you.
- Set the goal of giving every direct report feedback at least twice a week.
- Be precise in your feedback so it has meaning. Either enable improvement or reinforce good work. In lieu of feedback, say thank you.
Get them together
- It’s more difficult to create a sense of team and community remotely. As manager you need to do this deliberately. Suggestions include:
- Adopt a platform like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Any Meeting, etc. to bring everyone face to face with regularity.
- Even before the work is discussed let the meeting be lighthearted. Tell your trapped-at-home story and get the team talking. It’s powerful to reconnect in such a basic human way. Let community happen.
- Encourage the introduction of kids and pets as they are a part of the “home office” for so many.
- Discuss priorities, accountabilities, timelines, and the new processes. Let everyone hear/share the same information at the same time.
- Set an example by following “in culture” routines – when you log in, how early/late you ask for things. Encourage people to shut work off and “go home”. The COVID-19 situation is proving to be a marathon…help your team sustain it.
- In all exchanges – listen to how people are doing. Work aside, times are stressful, and everyone is managing work and home at the same time.
- Demonstrate empathy even if you cannot fix their issues (kid care, fear, etc.). Keep in mind that parents have their kids at work…all day.
- Offer your own experiences. Employees will be looking to you to know how the organization is doing and what to expect. Be genuine in what you can and cannot share. Realize that your reactions to things are being closely watched.
- If an employee seems to be struggling, consider referring them to MINES and Associates for support. It may not be clear to you whether it is anxiety, stress, isolation, etc., and it does not matter. MINES and Associates can help.
Content provided by KGA, a MINES Work/Life Partner
To your wellbeing,
– The MINES Team
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