It feels as though almost everyone on the planet has written a blog about how you can stay motivated at home and how you can transition from the office to a remote working pattern, these are great blogs, but they are often written from a worker perspective as opposed to a managerial one.
Sometimes as a manager it can feel as though you should be the one with all the answers, but the reality is you are just as human as your employees. Much like their own, your job has gone through a massive change recently and the pressure to deliver, whether you are new to management or a managing director, is as intense as ever. Which is why you may be questioning your ability to keep your workforce motivated and productive, when you too are feeling a slight slump.
Recognising this as a viable challenge many managers in our community are facing, we recently sat down with professional trainer Ruth Farrar to discuss how you can adapt your management style to suit a remote working environment in our most recent podcast.
Have a strong relationship with your team
To paraphrase Ruth, your teams will need you now more than ever. Of course you are devoting yourself to the business as much as possible, so we don’t mean from a professional perspective, but rather a human one.
To ensure you keep your teams motivated and engaged it is more vital now than ever to be transparent, honest and more frequent with your employee communications. Remember your team are more isolated than ever, some may have household members and others may be living alone, but either way it is important to check in.
One way of doing this could be through having daily team catch-ups. We go a step further and have two, one in the morning and another in the evening, where we discuss work, life and even some of the challenges we are facing. Outside of this it is important your employee’s know that you are available to speak with on a one-to-one basis.
Whilst it can be difficult balancing the line of manager/employee relations during this period, sometimes having that one to one chat to discuss a broader range of issues makes you seem more approachable as a manager and can work wonders for team morale both during the immediate and long term.
Productivity measures need to change
Most employees will be used to working against some form of targets or deadlines, which they then use as a measure to internally evaluate their own performance. One of the biggest problems right now is that many of these measures may not be accurate for the current climate. There may be a reduction in sales or some projects will have been cancelled meaning your teams won’t be able to hit targets and thus their self assessment of their performance (along with morale) will decline.
With this in mind, to keep your teams motivated it may be worth considering a temporary shift in how you measure performance. For instance, rather than targeting on new clients won or contracts sent out you may want to consider alternatives like effort into maintaining and rebuilding relationships with current or old clients or moving away from individual to more team targets or goals.
This highlights you recognise the challenges your employees may be facing on the day-to-day, adding to that human managerial element addressed previously, where showing that you are willing to be adaptable and open to new ideas in the current market can potentially lead to stronger levels of employee innovation and engagement.
Furlough and keeping everyone connected
Many of us as managers and business owners have unfortunately had to make the decision to furlough either part or all of our team, and whilst there is some confusion about what you can and cannot request from your team whilst they are furloughed, staying in contact is not an issue so long as the business element is removed.
We cannot stress enough how vital it is that you keep your team members engaged and interacting with each other whilst they are away from office. As we are examining the longer-term picture, imagine how challenging it may be to re-integrate those who have been furloughed back into a team environment, where previous failure to maintain regular contact could mean employee disengagement.
Finding ways to maintain company culture and connection is key over the upcoming weeks to ensuring a happy workforce both during the present and future as people will remember you for your actions today. Therefore we suggest you find potential ways to keep employees engaged in your company, this may include anything from weekly updates on what has happened in the business to team lunches and virtual quizzes.
Our biggest advice for you as a manager today is to ensure you portray a sense of humanity to your workforce. Keeping them connected, engaged and motivated will go a long way to ensuring your business is both able to perform in todays tough climate and will be a positive place to work in the weeks and potential months to come. For more detailed advice on how you can approach managing during Covid-19, feel free to get in touch with Ruth directly who will be happy to offer her expert guidance.