Managing employees virtually presents different challenges than leading a team in a physical space, as many are now discovering.
So how can you as a leader best motivate your virtual staff during this COVID-19 shutdown (and beyond)? How do you ensure that projects are being completed? What’s the best course of action for employees who are not productive? How do you best encourage a good work-from-home (WFH) work ethic?
We’re offering 5 tips to help you lead your WFH team well during the pandemic shutdown and beyond:
1. Clarify Work Expectations – To ensure employees are getting tasks completed in the timeframe needed, clearly communicate when you expect them to work according to what actions may be appropriate and policies specific to the organization. Refer to the company’s policy in the employee handbook regarding working remotely. If the organization does not have a policy in place, create a policy with clear direction and guidelines before employees begin working remotely, and/or share it with them as soon as you have one established.
2. Provide the Proper Tools – To be successful in any job, employees need to have the proper tools to complete their tasks. For some employees working virtually, that may include providing a laptop or program and/or access to email from home. Ensure your employees have the proper tools to be successful when working outside of the office.
3. Schedule 3 Types of Employee Check-Ins:
- Weekly Team Check-ins – Scheduling a visual conference call (Zoom, etc.), provides an opportunity for team members to connect with teammates, provides you the opportunity to evaluate how/if tasks are being accomplished and if goals are being met, and provides you an opportunity to troubleshoot should any needs arise. Additionally, as the leader, it provides you the opportunity to provide some much-needed stability for your team during this crisis. They are looking for you to lead them.
- 1-on-1 Check-Ins — During this pandemic, don’t assume your team is doing okay just because they’re showing up for Zoom calls and getting work done. Check in with them individually to ask how they’re doing, if they need anything, how you can best support them right now, etc. This not only offers encouragement and provides stability during these uncertain times, but also can help them work and focus more effectively as well.
- “All Hands” Check-Ins – An “all staff” meeting can provide overall updates on company health and numbers, encouraging employees regarding projects, thanking them for their contributions, and share new business opportunities.
4. Create a Communication Strategy – To go along with the tip above, there should be an agreed upon strategy for communicating with employees. Will all communication be done through email? Video conferencing? Slack (or another business communication platform)? Phone calls? How often will supervisors be communicating with their teams? Clarify your communication strategy, hold your managers accountable for communications, and inform your employees of the plan.
5. Trust Your Employees – You hired your employees because you believe they can accomplish the work that must be done. The same goes when working virtually. With clear expectations, as mentioned above, employees have a stronger understanding of what it looks like to be successful in their role while working remotely. Allow employees to accomplish their tasks at their discretion within the expectations, guidelines, and due dates provided by the company.
Virtual team success comes through establishing a working system with clear guidelines, optimal communication, and helpful support that assists your team in collaborating well and delivering quality results.
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For assistance in creating policies and/or managing employees virtually, contact Close HR Connections