As many thousands of people worldwide have been forced to work entirely online, the question of how to continue to be an effective leader comes into sharp focus. With little time to prepare, limited resources and a highly-stressed team, learning to manage people from behind a screen needs to be fast.
We have a list of tips that will help you set yourself and your team on the path to success:
- Roll Call
Phone conversations, email, and social media messaging go only so far. Your team needs to see you, and you need to see them. The good news is that streaming services make this relatively easy. Look in with your team either in meetings or one-on-one to check everyone is okay first, then set your agenda for the day. Offer people support during lockdowns so they feel connected.
- Communicate a Lot
It probably goes without saying that you should be in regular communication with your team. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you’re used to an office environment, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in. By being available as you would be in the office environment people feel confident that they can approach you online for answers and guidance.
- Take Advantage of Technology
As a manager, your job is to keep your team connected. Communication tools are a simple way to keep everyone engaged. While email and text messages might be a short-term solution, tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are far better suited for collaboration and communication. Some of those collaboration tools are even available for free, but even those services you pay for are worth the additional layers of security. As we have already seen, not all public platforms are created equal and many people have been reconsidering their options after security breaches. You get what you pay for is an age-old adage for a reason.
- Manage Expectations
Help your team figure out what they should do, and create realistic expectations for their work. By the way, “managing expectations” also applies to you as a manager. Set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating the tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you measure success.
That means defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. Otherwise, you are unlikely to see verifiable results in the coming months.
- Focus on Outcomes, Not Activity
At such an emotional and trying time, your focus should not be on micromanaging your team but supporting the quality of work produced. If tasks are complete the standards required and people are available when needed, then worrying about hours logged or people behind the screen between 9-5 is a waste of your energy. Think of this time as a mass-grieving period and cut people some slack – yourself included.
- Resource Your Team
Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, that means there’s a good chance they need tools like laptops, software, mobile devices, or even a high-speed internet connection. It’s not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things, and it’s your responsibility as a manager to make sure that they do.
- Be Flexible
Understand that, especially in the current environment, your team has a lot going on. That’s not an excuse for not getting things done, but it is a reason to reconsider what productivity really means. Regular work hours are probably unreasonable for many people. Just having access to supermarkets can be a challenge. For those with kids, many now are also trying to homeschool. If you value your staff, be gentle with them and let them figure out how to find balance and normality in this challenging time. It will pass, and you’ll want your team motivated and ready when work resumes in any capacity.
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