Managing your team and productivity during lock down. Week 2

Ensuring your team stay motivated whilst remote working will be, what I believe the hardest task for many employers and leaders over the forthcoming months, especially in today’s modern world where there are so many distractions at hand.
Throw in home schooling and the situation becomes very different.

For many people and given the current circumstances, it can be difficult to resist watching the continuous live news stream, whilst attempting to work from the sofa and maybe viewing this as a little impromptu holiday.

It’s essential to consider some of the impacts incorporating remote working can have on your business. Many employees are capable of self-motivating, others need constant direction and praise. Some people will feel looked after whilst others can feel neglected. Being able to identify potential negative attributes means you can come up with a solution before any problems arise.

Motivation

For me the way your team are driven has not changed, it’s the delivery in your leadership which needs to adapt to your new model.

If you know your key workers need constant direction, review, praise and reward you still need to deliver it in this way, and there are many online tools which are perfect for this.
For others who thrive on a challenge and love autonomy, continue to give them space to be creative and innovative, whilst ensuring they feel supported and safe.

Effective leaders are able to adapt to their environment and also between leadership styles to suit their audience and circumstances.

Encourage your team to create a light and comfortable working area, free of distractions. Ensure they are adhering to the health and safety requirements ie, enough space, the right chair, and arm monitors to eradicate further health problems later on when you will need them to be on their A game. This may be a long road, so ensure everything from the offset it comfortable and working.

The task of leader’s to keep your team motivated and productive is no mean feat.
So, does leading remotely require new skillsets? Or maybe even new mind-sets?
Change is difficult for some, we are all experiencing unprecedented change which can cause fear, anxiety and abnormal behaviour for many members of your team.
I used the expression the other day, give your team a cuddle! Whatever personality type you have, your team right now need to feel involved, valued, trusted, safe and part of your team. Check in on them, show them you can be flexible and realistic.
I asked a dozen remote workers on Monday how they were being lead, the majority confirmed that they felt they had the right level of support and therefore wanted to prove they could be just as productive at home as their normal desk.
Leaders willing to accept that this is not normal circumstances, the normal strict 9-5pm regime may not be necessary for everyone’s role, those willing to accept that employees with young children will need flexibility and understanding and may need to reduce their working hours or work in chunks of time rather that a continuous 7.5hr day.
The ones who were not showing signs of commitment were not receiving the cuddles………………………..
Communication

As I mentioned above communication will be the foundation of any remote working set up and especially within teams. If you don’t communicate effectively at all levels, remote workers will feel unimportant, uninvolved and will, in turn, lack motivation.

As always, openness and transparency is critical. Be honest with your team about what you expect, and the end result, share the vision and get everyone on-board.
Set boundaries and encourage feedback and discussion. Make it easy for your remote team to ask questions so they have a crystal-clear understanding of everything that’s going on. This minimises room for error.

I suggest a morning and evening team check in, depending on how large your organisation is will depend on the number of people involved and the number of teams they belong to, ie management team, team they lead, sales team.
This encourages people to share their feelings and any fears on the latest Covid19 announcements, a problem shared early morning stops the fear from affecting their productivity all day.
The check in’s show you care, and help you stay in the loop and on top of projects.

Accountability

One of the biggest lingering concerns for remote workers is accountability. How do managers effectively supervise their remote workers without them feeling micromanaged?

Using accountability tools such as Sococo, Slack, Trello, and Asana can help you to keep on track. They give you the opportunity to monitor the progress of projects and tasks, set up workflows that demonstrate your ongoing contributions as well as establish the remote working culture moving forward.

The most obvious way to hold your team accountable is progress reports, and KPI’s, this should be no different to how you usually hold your team accountable.
KPI’s (key performance indicators) allow for transparency as there can be no hiding.

eg.
No of Calls
No of conversions
No of complaints
No of 5* ratings
No of non-compliance issues.

All team members should be required to submit weekly KPI, s which allows you to monitor performance and productivity, if the same measurements were in place prior to remote working you will have a good comparison to track productivity.

Technology

One of the most important ways in which leaders can improve their work with remote teams is to use technology effectively, however many of us are not confident in using the vast array of tools which are now available in business.

As a leader you cannot get left behind the technology train, new apps and productivity tools are being launched all of the time. You might not be aware of them but your competitors are. You will also add value to your own role by introducing them into your organisation, as many tools can reduce labour costs.

A critical skill set required by leaders of remote teams involves linking together people, work and technology.

Incorporate productivity software to your business such as Slack, Trello, Focus Booster and Asana

Wellbeing

Looking after your wellbeing is absolutely crucial at a time like this. Not just for the sake of yourself but also for others. Focusing on your mental health is equally as important too. You should set yourself out a similar day to as you would at the office – this includes taking breaks and not over-dazzling yourself just because your laptop is at hand.

Get yourself outside (where applicable) in the fresh air. Whilst isolating, you’re still able to exercise once per day and the fresh air will be extremely important to your mental health, especially if you’re cooped up inside for the majority of the day.

Socialising is still incredibly important – even if it’s not face to face. Keeping in touch with co-workers, friends and family will really aid in boosting your positivity, making you more likely to be able to focus on your work.
Eat well and stay hydrated. Working from home is the perfect time to meal-prep, plan your meals and keep up with drinking the recommended daily water intakes.

Employees may begin to feel isolated and this is proven to cause anxiety. Reassuring yourself and other people will put their mind at ease, making yourself and/or your colleagues much more productive.

If you/your colleagues/employees are used to working together – the new set up might, at first, be strange. Remote working isn’t conductive to building meaningful relationships with co-workers in the same way that working in the office is. Suggest member of your team ‘’buddy up’’ and check in with each other 2/3 times a day.

Teamwork

When working remotely, teamwork is important to help with group projects, boosting morale and ensuring that every task is completed quickly and efficiently.

You should promote self-management because some people struggle with a lack of managerial presence and without this, your team will find it hard to know where to turn to with struggle. If you encourage teamwork, natural dynamics will form and the group can solve problems, delegate tasks and help each other perform well.

Magnifying motivation will really help to boost your team’s effort. Encouraging team events such as weekly catch ups or lunchtime chat breaks and perhaps even introducing remote teambuilding exercises such as quizzes and games (charades is a personal favourite of mine!).

Control and Trust

Touching on many of the points I’ve listed above, control and trust come hand in hand when you’re remote working.
As a leader you need to trust your decisions and have self-control, it is just as important that you maintain control within your team but also display trust and enable them to manage themselves.

Practice substituting control with communication. As above, communication is key with anything. Too much control can sometimes lead to workers ‘’gaming’’ the system. They’ll feel motivated to find ways to produce numbers whether or not the impact on the business is positive.

Think mentoring, less managing. Trust empowers teams to feel better about themselves, make faster decisions and take responsibility for what they do. Too much ‘’checking in’’ may lead to the feel like they’re being undermined. You hired that individual because you thought you were capable of the job, right? Let them do it.