If you lead a team that until mid-March worked together, maybe sat together in the same room, your team dynamic and culture has radically changed. Not only do you now all know more about each other’s taste in home decor but all ‘normal’ modes of communication have been altered.
From our interactions with business during the coronavirus crisis we’ve compiled 5 pieces of advice for managers to help with the adjustment:
1.Understand the different Pressures
Pressure still exists, such as the demands to get things done faster or take on more work. After the initial shock, usual service in organisational needs have begun to resume. This time you are feeling pressure whilst working remotely which means your colleagues are feeling work pressure inside their home space. Home is now not the sanctuary from work it once was for your team. So, ask your team individually how they are managing the pressures of work and what is working well or not for them. Concern is a powerful communication tool, and even when you cannot change the forces pressuring your team they will understand more about the respect you have for them.
2. Screen fatigue is rising
Screens are tiring to look at for hours on end. In our rush to embrace remote working people are starting to get video call fatigue. So ask yourself, does every contact need to be by video? Could some online calls be planned as audio only so you can still share screens or documents but give each other privacy? Maybe even plan ‘old fashioned’ phone calls; as the participants can move on the phone (pace about, make a drink) rather than sit still staring at a screen. So, ask your team what type of contact works for them and when; this gives them control and a stake in supporting good communication.
3. Work is invading homes
There is a home all around your colleagues webcam. What you see on the screen may look calm and nice but behind the camera childcare, schooling, pet feeding, family squabbling, washing up chaos and much more may be happening. A colleague working from home with 3 children will have a very different experience than a person living in a flat alone. Both have positives and negatives, both are managing lock down restrictions, but one of those colleagues may find it much easier to get a calm and quiet place to work than another. So, make sure you understand the home-life your business is entering; practical ways about timing contact or adjusting working hours could drastically increase your colleagues performance and improve their well-being.
4. Leading online meetings is a new skill
Online meetings are not the same as being in the same room. You may have been great at engaging people when they are sat 4 feet from you but now you are reduced to the size of a small toy on their computer screen your presence has changed! Online meetings should involve communication not just information sharing, otherwise you could send an email. Remember, your team can also now mute you if they want to, a magic power many an employee has dreamed about when actually in a meeting room! Therefore, what strategies are you planning to get feedback from your colleagues throughout a meeting, or to ensure they are participating and that they are comfortable? You need to re-learn the art of leading meetings for the online world, so read about other people’s approaches, watch the online ‘how to’ videos and ask your team what they need. This is a new skill you will need to learn it quickly.
5. Explain the impact of change
Uncertainty is now a constant. When your team is allowed to come back to the workplace (which may still be many months away) the working world will not be the same. How we get to work, where we work, when we work and who we have contact with will alter radically. However, one thing as managers we do know is how resistant to change colleagues can be, yet change will be thrust upon us all as we adjust. What do you know about how someone processes change (indeed how you deal with it) and what tools can you give them to understand how to embrace and move with change? We’ve written several articles on this (as have many others) and you could share this understanding with your colleagues so they are better skilled to manage their own response to change. When we notice how people respond to change we can then anticipate as managers practical actions that mitigate the disruption and ease the process.
This is a subject that deserves more than 5 tips but the list above is a start to helping you as a manager lead your team in a new way, in new patterns and with new skills. And if you want to share feedback on this topic or ask more questions, the Know & Do team would welcome a call on UK0161 2804567 to share ideas.
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