With the current situation of Covid-19, many of us find ourselves working differently. Whether you are self-isolating, being ‘virtually’ surveyed or home working; managing your people from afar is different to managing them in person. Some will argue that the occasional days when you work from home, or the Sundays when the crew are off the boat, can be your most productive times But how do you manage your team in the long term, when you are unable to have that in person face to face time?
Communication, communication, communication! Technology has come a long way to support remote team working. Many managers will advocate for that early morning stand-up meeting and it still takes place, just now it’s via an online platform such as Zoom. Maintaining this routine ensures the whole team is not just up, but dressed and ready for the day ahead. As one team member mentioned to me just last week, ‘I feel better informed now than when we were all working together in the office’.
Collaborating can be a little more challenging remotely, however many conferencing facilities also have the facility to use break-out rooms, where you can create virtual small group working. From just two people to larger numbers, these can be effective for collaborative working.
Video conferencing can be effective not just for team meetings but for one-to-ones to 1’s too. Being able to see each other is really important, as the tiny nuances of communication in body language can be lost on a voice-only call. Schedule your individual meetings with your team members, so that they can save up their questions knowing they will have your undivided attention soon. Check in daily with each individual in your team as lack of communication can result in loss of motivation and an increase of uncertainty. Don’t forget to celebrate successes, both that of the individual and of teams.
Schedule in regular ‘formal’ meetings with clear purpose, with start and finish times. Discourage multi-tasking during these meetings, such as e-mailing – a practice which can hopefully be transferred back to the face-to-face meeting room too!
Agreeing some ground rules can be helpful. For example: limit emails. Although creating a paper trail is important, it will be more efficient to have a conversation over the phone or via video, then follow up with an email as confirmation of what has been discussed and agreed
Value each other’s time, both as manager and team worker. How many remote meetings and calls are you holding? What time works best for everyone in the team, particularly when working across different time zones?.
Invest in the right technology. Ensure the technology works for your needs. Do you need more than just video-conferencing? If documents are being shared, how are they being worked on? Microsoft Teams is another platform which as well as providing video conferencing, also allows multiple users to create and edit shared documents.
Probably the toughest aspect for any remote manager is trust. How do you know that your team is being productive and not putting their feet up and watching TV? Focus on output – do you mind that a team member, as a morning person, has chosen to get up at 6am and bashed out that report before the morning meeting? Of course not, but if they take themselves off for a run at 4pm, that should be acceptable too. Stay focussed on what is being accomplished and the goals that are being achieved rather than activity. Setting SMART goals that are aligned to the bigger picture is key.
Above all it’s important to build relationships. It’s not all about work. , your team member also have family, hobbies and personal goals. Learn about each individual in your team, what are their strengths, what irritates and what motivates them? Finally, whether face to face or remotely, be yourself. Be interested and engage with your team.
Impact Crew is working remotely with their clients, so please drop us a line and we can discuss how we can be of support to you during this challenging time.
Karen Passman of Impact Crew
t: +44 (0)1425 614 419