Managing your work-from-home team successfully takes more than technology. Here are five steps to ensure clarity, collaboration, connectedness and productivity.
Today’s post is by Amy Jo Mattheis, Founder and CEO of Pavo Navigation Coaching.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about numerous seismic shifts in our lifestyles. One of the biggest for many of us is learning to effectively work from home. For team managers, the remote life poses particular challenges. Simply having the technology and tools is not enough. Managers also need to adjust priorities and protocols and develop guideposts to overcome the pitfalls of isolation and keep everyone productive and successful. Here are five things they can do:
Adjust your definition of success. Working remotely looks, sounds, and feels different from working in person because it is. That means you can’t use the same metrics to measure success. For instance, engagement looks different without in-person contact. Back-to-back video conferences can generate a new kind of fatigue for everyone involved, so make space to recognize this. Consider what you do require from your team be it an agenda, a defined and clear objective, punctuality, or video cameras on. Try to notice what works for your team. When do they stay engaged and when do they zone out?
Establish new priorities for the new space. Now that your team is working from home, recognize a new set of mental health needs that stem from persisting confusion and tension. Team members may be feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and “paralyzed” – things they used to be able to mitigate by merely walking down the hall and chatting with a coworker. Remind team members to take care of themselves and to take the occasional mental health day. Foster work/life balance by insisting on dedicated lunch times, carving out no-meeting blocks on calendars, and having a consistent end-of-day finish time. Have short one-on-one check-ins to assist in removing blocks. Set up occasional social, no “work talk” virtual meetups or create a buddy system within the team so team members are encouraged to get to know one another outside of their roles.
Be consistent and do not cancel. When we’re not physically together in an office, we have a natural tendency to forgo regular one-on-one check ins with our direct reports, but now it is even more important. Your team members probably feel more isolated than ever and their lives are full of new and complex pressures. Consistent, efficient one-on-ones are critical for staying motivated, collaborative, and reaching goals. Additionally, set a reminder on your calendar to consistently check in with team members, as their needs and concerns will constantly evolve.
Be honest and vulnerable about your own experience. If you are feeling exhausted by endless zoom meetings, share it with your team. If you feel “over” the pandemic, let them know. Offering what is true for you from a place of observational truth, without judging yourself or the situation, gives your team space and permission to do the same. When your team feels safe to express how they are coping (or not) you have the opportunity to creatively problem solve while you still can. Use your listening skills like never before. Tune in. Turn off notifications. Close other tabs. Be present with your team and truly hear what they have to say. An excellent tool to use here is to repeat back to them what they shared before jumping into a response. “What I hear you saying is…., is that accurate?” Then move into the conversation where you know you are on the same page and they know you heard them.
Last but not least, trust your team to do their jobs. Create an environment where people know they can ask questions or simply say, “I don’t know.” This builds their trust in themselves, each other, and you. When your direct reports know you have trust in them, they feel a powerful agency and motivation. Clearly state expectations. Take care to describe the scope of each project accurately. Then release your team members to do their work. Check-in for short meetings and continue to delegate. Sharing the work, giving support where needed, and allowing and encouraging questions builds a team that is resilient, curious, and connected.
Pavo Navigation Coaching is a resource for those seeking to reimagine their working environment. Focused on identifying and addressing toxicity in all its forms, Pavo serves a wide variety of companies both large and small with the goal of positively impacting employee happiness, loyalty, productivity and ultimately, profits. For more information, visit www.pavonavigation.com
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