The coronavirus has taken the world by storm. Within weeks, we have seen everything from lockdowns to over 27k deaths and everything in between. It has disrupted daily lives around the world and businesses are no exception. The invisible enemy has forced companies to ask their employees to work from home. With little to no preparation, employees have no choice but to quarantine themselves and work remotely. Managers have to face a challenging task of managing remote teams.
Put yourself in the shoes of a manager who has never filled those shoes before, and you can easily imagine how challenging it could be. Then there are issues like communication lags, low employee engagement, risk of projects getting delayed that makes their jobs even more difficult. Thankfully, all hope is not lost and there are many ways to manage your team smartly during the social distancing.
In this article, you will learn about seven ways that will help you manage your team effectively during social distancing.
1. Communicate Frequently
According to sociometric research conducted at MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory, shorter communication cycle times are more effective when it comes to boosting the team’s morale and increasing employee engagement. That is why it is imperative for managers to always stay in touch with their remote team members. They can take advantage of the communication features offered by task management software.
Never leave your remote employees on their own without checking in as they might feel left out. Instead, organize a meeting or a team huddle by using video conferencing tools. Make it mandatory for all team members to be present and encourage them to give their inputs during the virtual meeting.
2. Offer Mutual Support
Every team member is different and so are their needs. If you try to address all team members’ needs, it will exhaust you as a manager. That is why it is important to delegate responsibilities. The best way to keep your remote team members motivated and engaged is to allocate buddies and peer coaches who can provide them with much needed mutual support during social distancing.
Create small teams of two members, with each member playing the role of a buddy or peer coach for other team members. This prevents your remote workers from feeling emotionally and physically isolated. You can also assign a dedicated coach over every small team who can
3. Keep an Eye on Engagement and Stress Levels
The wellbeing of your remote workers should be your top priority as a manager. That is why it is important for managers to keep checking in on their remote workers. Ask them whether they are feeling stressed out or not? Periodically measure the engagement level of your employees and if you see a sudden or drastic dip in employee engagement levels then, there might be something wrong.
4. Be Optimistic
Just because there is doom and gloom everywhere does not mean that you should be pessimistic. Good leaders always stay calm under pressure and inspire others by setting an example. Similarly, your team members might look up to you for inspiration and if you are despondent, it will trickle down to your subordinates.
On the contrary, if you are jovial as a manager and paint a positive picture of the future, your remote workers are more likely to find meaning and purpose in their work during tough situations. You can also use some humor to diffuse some tensions and bring a smile on your team members’ faces. Tell your team members that difficult times breed innovation and encourage them to look at social distancing as an opportunity for coming up with creative and innovative ideas.
5. Change Your Expectations
Most teams have been trained to perform synchronous work and are placed in the same office. They are accustomed to similar working conditions and have the same working schedule. Unfortunately, when you are in a quarantine state and working from home, you will have to complete asynchronous work and embrace personalization. This means that you will have to reduce your expectations and give your team members some time to adjust and adapt.
6. Interpret Tone and Voice
Judging the emotions of employees is not possible, especially when you are not present in the same room or office. Instead of depending on body language, you will have to look for indicators such as voice, tone and text messages. For this, you will have to dig a little deeper and identify patterns in written communications, volume, rate, pitch and inflection in verbal communication and physical gestures in visual communication.
7. Keep Learning and Adapt
Just because you are practicing social distancing and locking up yourself in quarantine does not mean that you should stop learning. Instead of persuading employees to watch long videos, you should break down the lesson into smaller videos.
This not only encourages your employees to learn more but also makes it easy for them to grasp concepts that are being taught in the video. You can allow team members to choose the topic of their choice or ask other team members to explain the lesson in detail.
How are you managing your team during social distancing? Let us know in the comments section below.