You’ve been working side by side with your team and you’ve figured out how to best lead them. And then COVID19 hits. Your company may not have supported flexible work arrangements or had limited work from home policies. Here you are, your team all working from home offices, without a lot of experience managing from afar. This is a challenge for so many managers during this crisis, but luckily there are some things you can do to help ease this transition and be a successful remote manager.
Above all, lead with empathy. These are uncertain times and your employees are reacting to this crisis in different ways. Some may be in their homes alone, others may have multiple people working in a small space and privacy isn’t there, while many may be figuring out how to balance their jobs with childcare or homeschooling duties. As a manager, it’s important that you understand each team member’s situation and that you work together to find how you can support them. Being flexible with time, valuing results, and emphasizing goals/OKR’s will be key for you now.
Set communication norms. When should team members email, chat, call, or video meet? Think about what requires a meeting vs. a quick chat on Slack or Teams or whatever you’re using. Making this clear for the team helps everyone be more productive and improves communication overall. Don’t forget to plan for times for the team to connect just for fun; maybe a virtual coffee break, lunch, or just some time to share funny stories about how their work from home situation is going. It doesn’t always have to be about business
And speaking of meetings, you might change your current cadence. At this time, it might be a good idea to check in with each of your team members for five or ten minutes a few times a week. This doesn’t substitute for a more official 1:1 ; instead, this lets them know you care AND it helps everyone quickly course correct . Continuing your regular staff meeting should happen IF you feel the need to meet. If there’s no need, then don’t. And maybe if you’re speaking together more often in shorter meetings or chatting regularly, you won’t need the bigger meetings as often.
Goals/OKRs/Objectives are invaluable tools. Make sure you are deliberate in setting up goals for your team and continuing to revisit those. Doing this will ensure everyone is focused on the right things. Being realistic about timeframes and adjusting as necessary will help your team be more effective and give them a better way to balance their time.
I’m hearing so many remote work success stories right now. Most of those are due to managers being transparent, flexible and human. This can be a great arrangement for everyone in the long run!