This period of remote work and confinement is undoubtedly forcing us all into different working behaviours. As a manager, it’s likely that you have your own challenges around working at home to deal with, BUT you also have to be a leader and support your team with all the challenges that this involves.
How can you continue to keep your team going? How can you support them and keep up team spirit? How can you make sure that each employee is moving in the right direction and not forgetting those who don’t ask for help? How can you do all this and take care of yourself?
1. Maintain Regular Contact
"Out of sight, out of mind” is the first obstacle to overcome! For managers, it will be for you to decide what formal targets are required during this time and what level of informal communications are necessary. Maintaining weekly meetings is essential to maintain a sense of belonging to the group, to the team. Eliminating a feeling of invisibility or visual distance is fundamental.
At Aquent, we meet every day for a ‘coffee check-in’. An informal time where we share our daily life, our tips and work if necessary. The objective being not to lose this link and to continue to communicate, see each other, smile, talk to each other, and advise each other despite the distance. We also have two more structured meetings per week, where we discuss work projects.
2. Clear Communication of Information
The distance can create disinterest, or people paying less attention, so it will therefore be important to sometimes rephrase, to make sure that everyone has heard the message and adopted it, that if questions persist they are dealt with. It can be so much harder on a video call to read the reactions of your team and therefore harder to know if your message has got through and is understood. Reading body language becomes extremely hard, especially in a group meeting, as you can’t pay attention to everyone at the same time, and that’s if they even have their camera on! The answer is often to over-communicate.
3. Take care of your people
There will be a lot of worries from your team, in both their personal and professional life. Addressing these and starting conversations is the best way to support them and give your team the opportunity to voice their concerns. Be attuned to those who might need a little extra support, even if they may not be asking for it. You will get huge differences between individuals and the frequency with which they need, or want, to have contact. Some may need this daily, whereas for others they may feel that you are checking up on them if you are in touch too often. It is a balance that may take a little while to perfect.
4. Separate work from home
It’s important to be an attentive manager, but let's not be on duty 24 hours a day. The commute from office to home, is often a way to unwind and switch into a new ‘home’ mindset. In the same way that you treat your employees with respect, take care of yourself, your physical and mental balance. Know how to say ‘no’ when you are not able to answer, know how to take time to recharge your batteries and take proper breaks, so you can be truly ready to tackle all you need to during your ‘work’ time.
Remote management is fundamentally based on trust and it’s important not just to trust your team, but yourself. Whilst this might not be how you would choose to manage your team, we are all in this unique situation together and facing the same challenges. You are not alone! There will be things that work for you and things that don’t, so give yourself a break. You never know, you may find ways of working that really work for your team, that you continue when normality returns!
This blog was originally published on our French Aquent site.