As everyone has experienced for a couple of weeks now, the COVID-19 crisis causes people to work massively at home. Things brings additional challenges for all of us. Whether you are a front-line employee or a manager, we all have to get used to this new 'way-of-home-working'. Finding your rhythm is important and there are tons of tips available how to ideally work from home for each individual. However, how then to facilitate your team as a manager? This article proposes several concrete tips!
Arrange the stage: be calm, spread positivity, be honest and realistic
Just like everyone else, your employees experience uncertainty in different ways. They may have questions that cannot be answered, are concerned or a little more edgy than normal. Therefore, in these chaotic times, it is first of all important to spread a consistent and positive mindset as a manager or leader of your team.
As a manager you function as a leader and possess an exemplary position. Your employees may receive a lot of support from your acts. You influence them, overtly and covertly with your behaviour. Staying calm and being positive is therefore of key importance. Moreover, it is very understandable that your organisation is sailing in rough seas at the moment. As such, it is important to be honest and realistic at the same time.
Acting empathically is crucial since every single employee's situation is different. Some people might have their own 'home-office' with great facilities and can concentrate solely on work. Others must deal with different circumstances. They might for example have no home office and must check upon their children regularly. This involves an extra effort from their side. As a manager, an open dialogue between you and your employees is therefore important. Discuss together how your work/life balance is best feasible and what you can do as a manager to facilitate this. Show empathy and accommodate your team in a reasonable manner. Therefore, be understandable, give room and show respect.
Communicate intensively... and creatively: on an individual and team level
Communication is key. Doing it effectively has always been tough. It becomes more difficult when your team is scattered. Therefore, devoting extra effort to communication, both on an individual and collective level, is important to maintain a shared understanding and efficient way of working. It also helps to create structure. For example, it helps to create a stronger cohesion among the team and make work processes more effective.
So, how should you make it work in practice? Be creative and organise for example:
- Team meetings that are focused on sharing updates or discussing challenges
- Individual catch-up meetings to stay in touch with each individual
- Daily and/or weekly check-ins and check-outs
- Virtual coffee/lunch meetings
- Hang-out sessions after a long week of hard work
Working on a distance involves trust. Everybody works in his/her environment and are therefore not physically present in the office. Beforehand, it was easy to pop by and check how everyone is doing and how work progresses. Now, this becomes more difficult. Regularly checking how everyone is doing is a good thing. However, this works like a double-edged sword. When you would 'overdo' this, it might be received as too much and slightly nosy. So, find a right balance in keeping in touch and keeping a distance. For example, a major 'no-go' would be to check whether people are online on communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. Instead, assess and steer on outcome and discuss together deliverables. How your employees exactly fulfil their job is up to them. Work in these times is about flexibility and autonomy. Have and show trust in your colleagues.
With a lot of uncertainty and things outside our zone of control, we should pay close attention to ourselves. As a leader of a team, it is important to encourage this and look after oneself and another. Tell your team to take sufficient breaks, eat healthy, devote time to working out. All in all: stay healthy and take care!
We are very much aware that the current times demand more than meeting the advices above. Therefore, would you have any other questions or issues you are facing? We are very much open to discuss this with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out.