One of the first things to consider when managing someone remotely is communication. In my previous blog, I talked about the pressures of working remotely and you will need to be aware of them and react to them. Good, clear communication can help address some of the concerns of your staff.
First thing I want to make clear is when I say communicate, I do not mean you inundate your staff with several meetings a day. Make your meetings effective. Keep to the point. Let them get on with their work.*
The opportunities for quick chats are no longer there, so your communication needs to be planned. You will have to make sure that each conversation is thought out and effective to help your team retain clarity of purpose.
Talk about the future
Where you can, arrange time to discuss the future with your staff. In one-to-one chats, be open with them. Ask them how they are doing, ask them what they want to do going forward and if their job is at risk because of lockdown, discuss it openly. I know it sounds scary to talk about such things but transparency helps people cope with such change and make plans for the future.
When setting out objectives or giving someone a piece of work, take the time to ensure they understand the work. Make sure you set aside time to explain the objective or work clearly and to allow the team mate to reflect and ask questions. Take as much time as needed to explain the task and what is expected.
Then agree specific points where you will check in to discuss progress.
Checking in with them
Build time into any chat to ask people how they are coping. Be genuine when asking how they are. It isn’t some tick-box exercise, ask how they are and if there is anything you or the organisation can do to help. Especially for younger members of staff, they may not have built enough life experiences to cope with changes like this and they may need a lot of reassurance.
* This is where you need to show a fine balance .. between giving your staff member the time to express their emotions and work through any issues and then making the “business” part of the conversation to the point.
Remember that you may not have all the answers. Be open and say you do not know but you will try to find out.And make sure you do .. and if you still cannot find the answers e-mail them to tell them what you’ve done and that you still have no answers. They will appreciate that you have been honest and have tried on their behalf.
If you have any questions about how to manage remotely, please contact me, details are in the page header.