The pandemic has changed many things. One of the greatest shifts was moving almost completely from in-house work to remote work, a change that, in many cases, has come here to stay. Managers, therefore, have suddenly found themselves leading all their people remotely, which was not completely new to some, but it can still be challenging. Here are some things worth considering to make sure this transition works smoothly.
Don’t focus all your attention on productivity
Is my employee working or doing yoga all day? How can I make sure they are working the hours they are supposed to? If those are the questions that come to your mind when you think about managing staff remotely, you are probably looking in the wrong direction: micromanagement is tiring and not very efficient. Implementing remote tools to “control” employees -and there are many available- is not going to increase productivity.
Instead, managers should try to focus their attention and energy on building trust with their staff: think of yourself as a facilitator; someone who makes people’s lives a bit easier by not burdening them with impossible requests, helping them organize their tasks, and giving them the tools they need in order to achieve their project goals.
...But do focus on communication
Communication has always been key. But in a context where we cannot see one another every day, what we communicate, how and when we do it is one of the most important elements of the work equation. Therefore, managers should have a communication strategy clearly defined, aimed at sharing information efficiently, without “overcommunicating”.
One way of doing this is setting planned exchanges of emails or meetings: daily messages to check on the status of the project and sort out any doubts or difficulties, and weekly meetings to talk about the overall project are a good idea. When staff know that they will not be called “all the time”, they are able to organize their workday around those scheduled meetings.
Again, trust is key. You can not see what everyone is doing all day, but you need to trust they are as committed to the project as you are, and they also trust you enough to let you know if they are falling behind for some reason, so you can help them get back on track.
And be a leader who leads!
Finally, this new age needs managers who are, above all, great leaders. Your people will need support, help, and guidance. The leader needs to have vision, to know where the team is going, and encourage people to work in that direction.
In this respect, setting clear goals and objectives is essential: when your team members know what is expected from them and where the project is going they are able to work more independently, following your lead.
Trust, leadership, and vision. These are not new qualities, but they have acquired new meanings in the past few months. In this changing context, managers have to find a way to provide security to their teams, finding adequate ways to supervise and lead their staff. Are you up for the challenge?