Coronavirus is creating more disruption than many of us have ever experienced. It impacts our personal lives and professional lives. It’s doing the same for everyone around us. The situation changes daily with closings, cancellations, and now, decisions to have many people work from home.
Working from home may be a new way of working for some people or old hat for others. Either way, it’s now a reality for everyone. Here are some tips to help you successfully lead your team as they adjust to working in a new way, in a new location, in a world of disruption.
1. Reflect. how are you feeling about what is going on? How do you feel about the remote work? In times of uncertainty, your team largely will calibrate their response to the uncertainty based on your response. Set up routines for yourself to help you ‘keep calm and carry on.’
2. Show empathy. people are experiencing everything from minor concern to outright fear, not to mention disruption on multiple fronts. In addition, people may not be able to create the most productive work environment. Schools may close. They may have older relatives they need to check in on. Their ability to shut it all out may be taxed. Talk about Feelings First.
3. Move off email, communicate real time. Even in the most email-driven organizations, we see each other all the time. When everyone is remote, we don’t. Relying only on email can feel isolating. Pick up the phone. Get on Skype. Make a live connection.
4. Set up a cadence for communication. What was your cadence up to this point for team and individual meetings. Keep that. What else do you need to add? This is a rapidly changing situation. At a minimum, daily updates, should be the norm until the pace of disruption slows down. The length of the updates can change, but the regularity shouldn’t change abruptly.
5. Check-in, 1-on-1. do personal check-ins with each person. Make sure they are adjusting well and have what they need to succeed. Ask questions. Actively listen.
6. Collaboratively create contingency plans. There are lots of unknowns and risks right now. What contingencies might your team need? For example, how will the team adjust if members become ill and are out for several days? What if someone has an ill family member they need to care for? Working collaboratively on these plans will create buy-in and better solutions.
7. Create a virtual break room. Create ways that team members can catch up with each other and chat. It can be as simple as having each other’s cell phone numbers to send texts, hop on Skype/Facetime or actually call each other.
8. Focus on engagement. It’s really easy to feel disconnected when everyone is remote. Key drivers of engagement are helping people feel they are part of something bigger, the ability to make progress and feel competent, and the ability to make decisions about how one works. Make sure your team members are feeling good about these factors.
9. Break the tension. This entire situation can be nerve wracking. If your team is not dealing directly with the health crisis, building in some fun could help bring some relief. A silly contest, posting pictures of your ‘home office’(which may be the kitchen table!), a rotating responsibility to share a dad joke everyday could be just what the team needs.
10. Review the week. Whether on shared drive, Slack, or a live meeting, review the week with everyone. What did we accomplish? What issues are we having? How is our communication cadence working? How is everyone feeling?
One of your goals is to create a level of predictability for your team in a highly unpredictable situation. The more quickly you can use some of these tips consistently, the quicker you will all create a rhythm that works for your team.
Do you need some help getting your head wrapped around what to do with your group, specifically? Do you want someone to help your group exceed expectations in a very difficult environment? Call Edith at 1.978.475.8424 or email her at e.onderick-harvey@