7 Simple Tips to Managing from Afar!
The coronavirus has turned many businesses into virtual offices with companies enabling employees to work remotely. The obvious upside is limited exposure, but it also comes with challenges in terms of having continuity with ongoing business.
Here are a few simple ideas to consider while trying to manage your team from afar.
· Please do not chant “business as usual”. It’s NOT business as usual when people are suddenly working remotely with all of the members of their household sitting right alongside them, having to simultaneously cook, entertain, home school, and work.
· Set a routine and expectations with each team member. Be aware of each employee’s personal situation and work out a schedule with them so you aren’t constantly trampling on their personal time and or scheduling a meeting with them when they are trying to get their kids to bed! If you need an hour of their time, let them know in advance and ask them to schedule it when it's convenient for them, perhaps giving them a few options which work for you. Managers should be dancing around employees' schedules, not the other way around!
· Aside from scheduling expectations set work expectations as well. Help employees prioritize their workload so things which are of critical importance don’t get lost. If you still expect a weekly report from them, make sure they know it.
· Micromanagement can be your friend. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t micromanage employees, but it is easy for tasks to get lost when everyone is remote. Deadlines can get shuffled, meetings are postponed, tasks are forgotten, and suddenly you find projects are delayed. Ideally, touch base with each employee at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening just to make sure everything is running as planned. Just as you’d say hello to them at the office in the morning, say hello when working remotely.
· Keep some routines and toss others: If you have a weekly team meeting, there’s no reason not to have a virtual one. Make it a little more fun or loose than normal, but stay on top of business. But, you may find yourself in a situation where certain meetings don’t go ahead as planned and everything keeps running ship-shape. It’s a good time to evaluate your processes and see what can be optimized when you return to the office.
· If it’s logistically feasible, rather than have an online meeting, take a walk with an employee in the park. This way you can kill two birds with one stone! Exercise and productivity!
· Go slightly overboard on communicating with your team. After a phone call, send a summary email just to make sure the message was conveyed and received as intended. Celebrate small achievements, which acknowledge the difficult situation people are working under, provides and sense of accomplishment, and sends the message of business as usual. “Kenny was watching his 3-year-old and 5-year-old and still managed to launch all campaigns on time!”
· Most important of all is to stay on top of your projects and results. It will be awkward and or embarrassing if everyone returns to the office after a few weeks/months and your team has fallen behind. If you and your team are struggling to keep up, be sure to let your own manager know and ask for help in real-time.
Great leaders are at their best under difficult circumstances. Your team will be looking to you for guidance during this difficult period!
Use your time away from the office to brush up on your management skills!
“The Office is no Place for a Cattle Rancher! How to Practice Empathetic and Mindful Management” is available on Amazon!