Working from home is one of the consequences of the current crisis we are going through. Understandably, many managers I've spoken with over the past week are very apprehensive about how to manage their team virtually. I thought I'd assist you by offering 10 tips and an invitation to join me for a short online course on Wednesday 8 April from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.
Here are the 10 tips to get you started:
Tip # 1: What platform do I use?
If you work in a medium to large organisation, talk to your IT manager about the best platform to use. You'll probably have a 'go to' platform already in place. If not, there are myriad platforms: zoom, Go to Meeting, Abode Connect, Skype for business, and Microsoft teams are some of the better known platforms. Some are free! These platforms usually have video clips for training purposes. I'd suggest encouraging your team members to view a training video for the platform you use to get comfortable with how to use the system.
Tip # 2: Reduce email
It's tempting to send more and more emails during this time of social distancing. Not a good idea. Remember: During this period of being house-bound, the only community you and your team members have is your work colleagues. Popping down to the pub, socialising at the school gate, or gossiping at the gym is not possible for now and the unforeseeable future. Connection with work colleages is paramount and email is a poor communication substitute. Encourage phone calls and Skype sessions (or whatever platform you use) is much better and you'll probably get more done this way than firing off a barrage of emails.
Tip # 3: Manage outcomes not processes
Focus on outcome, not process. Rather than worry about the steps people need to take to complete the tasks required, concentrate on priorities and the end result. What needs to be done today? And what can you expect to be completed by the end of the day? are two good questions to consider. What time someone completed a task (as long as it is before an agreed deadline), where they complete it (bathroom, bedroom, or balcony), or even how they complete it, is not as important. The most important thing is to complete the right tasks with the right outcome. Focus on this.
Tip # 4: Manage expectations
Agree upon your expectations with the other person(s). Negotiate if necessary. Ask the following question: Can we agree on this? Can you commit to getting this done today? You are managing outcomes, not the time it takes or how it's to be done. Leave those responsibilities to the team member.
Tip # 5: Check-ins
A great way to start the day is to organise a daily check-in with all team members. These online meetings play several important roles. You can gain agreement on priorities and expectations from your team. You can create some camaraderie and fun. You reduce the tyranny of isolation. You can generate a team discussion. You can set expectations. The online meeting could last 30-minutes, or longer if need be. It's better to have more frequent, shorter meetings in a remote environment, than longer, less frequent get togethers.
Tip # 6: Check-outs
Check-out meetings at the end of the traditional work day can be useful to review progress and maintaining contact with your team. Working remotely, people can choose their work hours. Some find it better to work into the evening and attend to family matters during the day. No problem. As long as the work is getting done, it doesn't matter. But for those who need a little structure the check-out will help.
Tip # 7: Make your meetings interesting
Most platforms can facilitate group meetings where people can contribute (or not contribute!), just as if you're all in the one physical meeting room. I find zoom particularly good for group meetings. You can even have break-out sessions during the meeting and get people to come back and share what they have discussed. What about a guest speaker? Link up with someone who might be interested in talking about your field of expertise. What about inviting the CEO to come online for 10-minutes to answer questions? The possibilities are endless.
Tip # 8: Giving feedback
Managers don't give enough feedback face-to-face. But what about online? The best way to give feedback online is to invite the team member to provide you with their own feedback about a project they are working on. Ask these three questions: What went well in project? What didn't go so well? What will you do next time?
Tip # 9: Encourage stakeholder communication
Its easy for a team to work in a bubble remotely, communicating only with each other. The old adage: out of sight, out of mind is true when working remotely. Encourage your people to communicate regularly with their stakeholders, within and outside the organisation. Encourage them to do this via teleconferencing or telephoning, not email.
Tip # 10: Create an upward spiral of positivity
You only have to turn on the TV for five-minutes to watch the news or look at your social media stream to get depressed these days. What's going on around use can easily create a downward spiral of negativity. As the team members' leader, you have a responsibility to be as positive as you can; to bring your best self to work. The simplest way to do this is to invite ask each team member to identity one positive over the past 24-hours to begin your daily check-in. It could be personal or work-related. I call this "win for the day". Some people will struggle to think of something and that is why it's a good thing to start or finish the day with in a check-in or check-out. After a couple of goes at this, you'll find people will be prepared and even look forward to sharing some good news with their team members. You start with your win for the day and then invite each person to contribute.
And finally, YOU need to stay positive? Your team needs you to be in a good frame of mind, as challenging as this might be.
Are there any other tips you would like to share?
The one-hour online learning program aims to achieve three things:
- To build your confidence in managing remotely.
- To provide you with some practical tools to manage remotely and maintain productivity.
- To share useful information and insights that will help you to implement a good online remote routine.
REGISTER NOW Once you register and pay, I will send you the link to the webinar to your email address.
Dr Tim Baker is a thought leader in leadership development and performance management, best selling author, and international consultant. having consulted across 21 industries over 18 years, Tim has discovered what makes people tick. To find out more, go to WINNERS-at-WORK Pty Ltd.
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