As the world is coming to terms with the widespread outbreak of Coronavirus, its impact has disrupted the corporate world. The adverse effect of this pandemic has forced countless organisations to send its employees home. Some organisations have also enabled work from home facilities for employees to maintain workflow while practising social distancing as per the WHO guidelines.
This persistent crisis has only added to the woes of managers, who on any normal day, have a lot on their plates to deal with. In a quarantined environment, every aspect of a manager’s responsibility seems complicated. In situations like these, you may find it hard to adapt to the “new normal”, let alone manage an entire team. In this case, if you need some advice, you can implement these ideas.
1. Set your expectations according to the situation
Most teams are accustomed to following the regular workplace protocols. They work together, under the same working conditions, and follow the same work schedule.
Now while maintaining social distance, managers must assist their teams in adjusting to an asynchronous work setup and provide the opportunity for personalisation. As a manager, you'll also need to change your expectations depending on the situation regarding how work gets done.
You may have to let go of when and how tasks are accomplished, allowing the team members to carry out their responsibilities on their terms. This means you can focus on the results without worrying about the timeline and provide more flexibility to the team members.
2. Plan well to thrive in such a difficult situation
Thinking the present condition won't affect your business isn't the right way to go about it. You need to be efficient with your planning, now more than ever. So, sit down with your management team or other employees and chalk out your next course of action. Make sure you listen carefully and ask questions.
The clearer you are about your plan, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the way your team handles the responsibilities in this situation. The biggest mistake that business owners can make at this point is to have an unclear understanding of what their team members (remote or otherwise) are responsible for in times of crisis. By concentrating on the clear success criteria, you empower your remote team to understand what they are trying to accomplish.
Once you have these vital aspects worked out, talk to your workers and make sure that you understand the responsibilities of each individual in the team. Only then will you and your team have the freedom to give your best efforts.
3. Keep the optimism alive among your team members
The virus may be contagious, but so is optimism. Leaders who exhibit positivity and confidence in the future can better support their team members in finding a purpose in the work they do under these stressful times. And don’t forget to use humour at times as a relief.
You must understand that stress, fear and uncertainties often limit creativity, and promote compliance rather than commitment. You need to know that constraints are often the driving force that sparks innovation. So, invite your team to utilise the quarantine conditions as an opportunity to churn out new ideas.
4. Stay connected often
When it comes to communicating, it’s wise to maintain shorter communication cycle times. This is more effective in boosting and sustaining morale and engagement among the team members. You can use instant messaging to stay in touch constantly.
Don’t let any of your team members go half a day without communicating. You might also want to hold a quick conference each week and allow a different individual to take charge of this conference. Set the expectation so that everyone has to participate. This will allow your team members to learn what it means to show up as a virtual team player.
5. Check the tone and voice in face-to-face feedback
It’s difficult to read the emotional state of your team members when you aren’t in the same room. Rather than depending on the non-verbal data and body language, focus on indicators like text, voice, and infrequent video communications.
Also, keep a close watch on the patterns in the tone of written communication; the volume, rate, and the pitch of voice communication; and any physical gestures in video communication.
If you know your teammates well, changes in these behavioural patterns will help you recognise early that a team member may need more.
6. Focus on normalising new work environments
Working from home may create distractions and the possibility for misunderstandings. The more the members of your team are acquainted with each other’s environment, the better they’re able to make sense of one another’s behaviour.
The teammates often overlook the advice to orient each other with their environment, because the idea may seem a waste of time. But on the contrary, this process can be beneficial and help normalise the work environment of the employees.
For instance, taking a virtual tour of the workspace of the employee may be helpful. This way, you’ll know the possible distractions that may hinder their productivity, like barking dogs, noisy neighbourhood, etc.
7. Appreciate the efforts
While working from home allows for a certain degree of freedom, it can also promote negativity and loneliness, considering the situation worldwide. This is when managers should emphasise on the importance of positive reinforcement.
Employee recognition is an effective tool that managers may find incredibly useful. Multiple studies highlight that employees who feel valued were more likely to have high levels of energy. They were expected to be more active and be happily engrossed in carrying out their responsibilities.
“Make sure you don't miss out on any important day for team members even when you’re social distancing. Call them personally and wish them whenever you can”, suggests David Millicent, an assignment help expert for Allessaywriter.com. Also offer small rewards when your team successfully crosses a milestone.
8. Support continuous learning but keep it concise
Learning never stops even when everyone’s adjusting to a new environment, but it may be more practical to use microlearning. You can share short lessons on a single topic in a five to ten minutes video. You can talk about a specific tool, skill, or behaviour.
In fact, you can rotate the responsibilities of these lessons among other team members and allow them to decide their topics for training. You may ask a different team member to debrief the lesson and follow up with a short discussion about the relevance, application, and implications of what everyone has learned.
9. Promote peer-to-peer learning as a form of mutual support
Fulfilling every team member’s needs soon become exhausting for most managers. To distribute this responsibility, ask several team members to pair up with other co-workers as a buddy and peer coach. This shared leadership system creates a second layer of mutual support and prevents the emotional isolation of the team members working from home.
Allow the peer coaches to check in daily and evaluate overall engagement and well-being. If people haven’t filled this role before, it can be helpful to give them some guidance.
10. Ask for reports frequently
One of the most significant concerns of having a remote workforce in times of crisis is not knowing the status of projects and deliverables. However, with a little planning, you and your team members can focus on getting the most important tasks completed during these uncertain times.
You can ask yourself the following questions, in this case.
- What updates should they submit and how frequently?
- What "key performance indicators" (KPIs) should they report on and how often?
If any of your team members are new to remote work, you have to be encouraging and check in from time to time until they absorb the company culture.
11. Keep tabs on stress and engagement levels
Make it clear to your team that your primary concern is their well-being. Devote adequate time to keep a check on their engagement by periodically asking each team member two simple questions.
First, ask them to rate the level of stress these employees currently feel. Second, evaluate your level of the overall engagement. Your intuitive sense of the individual may be wrong, so it’s wise to get quantitative responses.
When you create favourable conditions for employees, you allow them to continue to perform and contribute. And at a time like this, you acknowledge their humanity by checking in on them.
While threats like Coronavirus may not be in your control, you can always adapt to the situation and help your team members to do the same. These ideas will help you manage your team successfully without compromising on the business' bottom line.
Olaila Lee is a senior marketing manager for a notable organisation in USA. She holds extensive knowledge on the process of marketing automation and has conducted many webinars on the same. She is also an academic advisor for MyAssignmenthelp.com and offers essay help to students.