Great question. COVID19 has forced us all to work differently, and as a result, it calls for different management styles. We are now a bit settled into a remote environment as we’ve done it for a couple weeks. In my experience, the first week was unsettling as we were still dealing with the news of the virus and the impact to us as a society. The second week everyone started to get into a groove. What now? Well we are working remotely, however, for some it can be great, others frustrating, but I find people are still experiencing hardship, anxiety and fear, and also looking to the future to see the vision of a potential outcome soon.
What does that mean for managers? Communication remains key, however, there are some other strategies you can implement to keep people engaged, highlight on retaining key employees and design the ‘back to work’ environment you want. Here are some thoughts:
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
Communication becomes critically important in remote environments. Most people are using some sort of team collaboration software to keep everyone on the same page (Microsoft teams, Slack, Google hangouts, etc.) It doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as you’re using one – they are really helpful to keep everyone engaged. Additionally, as a manager/leader, you’ll want to keep communication (1 to 1 or small groups) on a daily/every other day schedule. This gives both the manager and employee a chance to break things down, keep up to date as to what’s going on, and create accountability around who is doing what. It also provides an opportunity for an employee to have a place to go with problems, questions, etc., rather than feeling alone or out on an island themselves.
LOOK BEYOND THE WORK PRODUCT
This is also a time to increase communication beyond the ‘work’ to be done. How are your employees feeling, both physically and mentally? What are they challenged with (on-line schooling at home, taking care of family, family in critical roles and potential exposure, financial concerns… the list can go on and on). Your job isn’t to solve these problems, however, creating space to ask about them and listen can go a long way. In my opinion, many people are carrying around loads of worry, and are also isolated in the sense that they don’t have people to talk to. Letting your employees know you care goes a long way.
KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS TUNED FOR THINGS TO CELEBRATE
There is a lot of worry, unrest and concern in the world. There are also people demonstrating leadership, shifting roles, stepping up in new ways and adjusting to what business, family, and their community needs. This is a great time to look for those experiences and personally reach out an acknowledge someone for how they’re showing up or what they’re doing.
USE VIDEO AND HANGOUTS
When you can, use the video function (not just the phone). This allows you to read body language, see faces and creates a different energy. In addition, you can use them for happy hours or lunch and learns – it’s a great way to create social interaction in a remote environment and bring some levity and fun to the situation.
This is also a great time to start engaging your employees in looking toward the future. What will it be like when we get back to work? What strategies have we used that we want to keep? What are we most looking forward to? What will we miss? It’s also a time to begin to discern what concerns/fears your employees might have so that you and your leadership can discuss and create plans to address them.
As always, feel free to reach out to your BankTalentHQ coaches – we are here to walk beside you during this unprecedented time.
Career and Management Coach, BankTalentHQ