Due to the current lockdown situation, businesses have been forced to work from home. This has left many team managers pulling their hair out at the thought of managing their team remotely. Although daunting at first, a little research and preperation can go a long way to put you and your team on the path to success.
This blog is one of three posts that will be covering how to manage yourself, your team, and your recruitment process while working from home.
Before you manage your team, it is crucial that your are set up correctly yourself. Read the Definitive Guide to Working from Home to make sure your work from home habits are setting you up correctly for maximum productivity.
Once you find yourself to be fully secure in your routine, you are more than capable to manage your team from a remote setting. Based on advice from multiple team leaders, we have collated and condensed the information into six clear steps. Here are the tips that will guide your team to success:
1) Set expectations/ goals.
When working from home, and communication is made more difficult, employees are going to need added guidance in their day to day working life.
Due to having to set up at home, staff will have a new and completely different working environment. Therefore, it is necessary to allow flexibility within their hours; by setting realistic and manageable goals, a good amount of stress will be retracted from employees.
If, after setting goals, you are finding a common theme of incompletion and added stress within your employees, it may be a sign that the expectations are too high, and it is time to revaluate.
From previous lockdowns, we have found that a common issue is people burning out as they find it difficult to distinguish between time off and working hours. Therefore, again, frequent revieing and re-evaluating of goals is crucial for a productive team.
After completing the smaller goals, remind them how these goals are contributing to the overarching goal and how they are making a positive impact on the business. This helps to keep moral high.
2) Communicate effectively.
We all know by now that working remotely can make people feel isolated, and anxious about under/over working. To combat these factors, regular and lengthy communication is key. Ensure that you are keeping check of their performance and they are managing ok with the tasks they have been set.
As mentioned, working from home drastically alters employees’ schedules. As a result, meetings should be scheduled to a time that suits everybody; this may be difficult, however it is crucial to ensure the team works effectively. Make sure these meetings are lengthy, in depth and questions are asked to make sure that the goals and tasks that have been set are clearly understood.
When it comes to one – to – one meeting, this is time to assist your employees and, when discussing work, you should effectively act as a mentor (more on this later). In addition to work, checking on your employee’s wellbeing is a must. Ask about their mental health and how they are keeping positive during these troubling times; sometimes just having a chat can really benefit people’s mood. Keeping the morale of your team high is imperative when working remotely.
3) Don’t micromanage – be more of a mentor.
Although this article has previously stated that you should regularly check up on the goals and expectations of your team. It is of upmost importance that you do not micromanage. It wouldn’t be right to check over your teams shoulder every few minutes in the office, so it isn’t remotely either. As a manager, you should trust your team to be productive.
Rather than constantly checking, ask in your scheduled meetings and make sure that you cover everything that they need to know. If anyone is in need of help, as their manager, it is your responsibility to lend them a helping hand and point them in the right direction. If their deadlines are all being met on time, there’s proof in the pudding! Have some faith in your team and let them get on with their work.
4) Make sure you have technology / clue up on it.
Working remotely can have its issues when trying to communicate on projects and tasks, making the whole process far more difficult. It’s always going to be more challenging to connect and correspond, however with the right technology, it can all be made far simpler.
First of all, even though it may seem like common knowledge, an essential starting point of remote working is having basic hardware: working WIFI, a laptop or computer and a phone. Additionally, a printer may be of use depending on your job. If you, or any of your team, haven’t got access to any of these devices, the company must give them a helping hand by reimbursing them. However, if this isn’t possible, it’s a good idea to invest in these items as it will come in handy for the future.
Once you have all the essentials, the most important software you will need is Microsoft Office which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. If you work in an office job, these programs are almost essential. Additionally, Microsoft teams is an incredibly useful piece of software; it allows you and your team to connect efficiently by sending chats, sharing files, live editing of files and video calls.
Keeping track of what you assign each team member remotely can be tricky. Project management tools such as Trello can be very useful. This software will allow you to assign team members to tasks with due dates and more. The interface is very clear and easy to manipulate.
Video calling software is also essential. We have found that Zoom is the easiest to use and most popular among clients but there are many alternatives such as Teams, Skype, WebEx and Odro which are easy and sophisticated to use.
5) Track progress and explain the reasoning.
We have briefly mentioned before about setting goals and targets; however, it is key to stress the importance of tracking progress and explaining the reasoning. One of the best methods of organising this is getting into a call with your team, clearly defining goals and the desired results. Then, when on the call, you could put your heads together to devise a plan of how to execute the tasks that would get you to that goal.
Once this information has been gathered and formulated, explaining why you are doing these tasks is crucial for connecting with your employees. In such uncertain times, with people working independently, having the team all acknowledge the goals and the purpose of their work gives a massive helping hand in keeping a sense of unity among the company.
6) Work on team bonding by celebrating success.
Work can definitely feel like a drag when your office is in your home. It is of paramount importance to keep spirits high. So, when your team experiences success in their tasks/ reach their targets, you should celebrate. After finishing work on a Friday, have an online party! Activities like a pub quiz, bingo or virtual horse/ dog racing are great fun; it is an excellent way to distract from work. During these activities, make sure to get the drinks flowing and try to steer the conversation well clear of anything work or COVID related; no one wants to be reminded of this when they’re celebrating.