The COVID 2019 epidemic in a matter of days completely changed the work of thousands of companies. Many managers had to switch to the remote mode, and this was not easy – it is especially difficult to manage processes and be responsible for the well-being of employees in such a situation. How to act as a leader to maintain team spirit and work efficiency?
According to a study conducted by Accenture among 15 thousand employees in 10 countries, the team needs leadership support at three levels at once. At a basic level, physical needs: in a crisis, people want to be safe. At the average level, there is a psychological state: it is difficult for people to switch to a new format (it is not easy to maintain working hours at home, self-discipline is often not enough, and many need to take care of children and elderly relatives). The top of the “pyramid” is the need for communication and communication with the common cause: employees need to feel involved in those tasks that the business solves.
There is no single scenario that will help. But there are several rules that will allow you to go through a period of adaptation and maintain efficiency even with remote work.
1. Create an “operational headquarters” from top managers
Switching to a remote format should become a normal procedure that can be practiced in the future. Therefore, update the company’s policies for all the most important points: trips (which will be possible after the completion of the self-isolation regime), formats and opening hours, tools for remote communications, holidays, etc. This is the first step.
Further, it is necessary to work out and create conditions that will mitigate the physical and psychological impact of the crisis on employees, for example, on issues such as support in caring for children or elderly relatives. Tell people how to better equip their home office, teach them how to work with new programs and technologies, and organize technological infrastructure. All these issues should be decided by a special headquarters, consisting of the top management of the company and the necessary specialists.
2. Forget the hierarchy
If you are not used to working in “flexible” teams – it’s time to start. Just trust your team: give employees the opportunity to work with clients in an efficient and convenient way, and let managers make independent decisions. It is at this time that it makes sense to reduce the “distance to leadership.” Reduce formalities, use chat or one-on-one communication to discuss emerging issues.
3. Spread the company’s values to everything you do
During quarantine, people especially need a sense of elbow. Nothing supports a sense of unity more than pursuing common goals. And this means that the values of your company should be read in every action of an employee or manager: why do they do just that, why now? Bring to the team and your own values, let them become the voice of your business. When talking with the team, give preference to words that express emotional support: it is very important for maintaining a healthy climate.
4. Living stories are better than dry numbers
Today, companies collect huge amounts of data, indicators and forecasts. But people need real, live stories. It is very important for employees to see that an experienced, calm and confident leader is next to them. Do not shower the team with letters, do not torment yourself with an abundance of meetings, new directives and reports. Better talk about how their colleagues cope with the situation.
5. Rid people of priority tasks
In times of uncertainty, employees worry about their work and income. Therefore, it is important to clearly prioritize and direct resources to those areas that will help the entire company survive the difficult time. You must choose what to pay attention to and what to pause. To do this, work through various scenarios (for example, the duration of the quarantine) – this will allow you to evaluate the necessary resources. Explain to employees that part of the processes has been put on a stop deliberately in order to take care of the company’s well-being and their own well-being. To achieve key goals, create working teams based on the abilities of people, and not on the functions prescribed in the staffing table.
6. Remind top managers about the need for empathy
The attention of your employees will be riveted to those leaders who will lead the “reset” of processes. Make sure that these people, in addition to professional qualities, can show empathy and care. Choose those top managers who are most respected in the team, and instruct them to communicate more often with employees. Switch their attention from KPI to forward movement. Let every online meeting with employees begin with informal communication. Be more human. Let employees know that you should not be afraid to put a family above productivity and that it is perfectly normal if a child runs into the room during an online meeting or a dog barks. No need to pretend that everyone is still in the office if everyone is sitting in their apartment or house.
7. Avoid communication gaps
Do not leave a vacuum in communication. Answer the questions of your employees, even if all that you can answer can be formulated with the phrase “Good question. We don’t know, but we’ll figure it out. ” Hold regular brief meetings in order to get feedback in a timely manner.
8. Consider a remote work culture for the future.
Already now, one can learn an important lesson from the current situation: the company should always be ready to switch some of its teams to remote mode. This is the only way to build a sustainable business. Schedule trainings for senior and mid-level managers on managing remote employees. Invest in creating remote teams today and in the long run. Stimulate those who are most effective in remote work, motivate them to train less fit colleagues.
9. Do not let the crisis stop you
Allocate two hours a day to work out global tasks and prepare the company for the future. At first, it will seem that you are taking valuable time out of the work process, but believe me: it is these watches that will allow you not to drown in routine and give business an incentive to develop. The pandemic will end, but people and business will remain.