The COVID-19 pandemic has forced even the most “My door is always open,” hands-on manager to shut the literal door. Working from home is challenging for most, and managing your team when they are transformed into a bunch of faces and voices on your laptop screen comes with its new challenges.
In addition you, as a manager, have to be accountable not just for your team, but also for yourself. Your performance as a manager will be monitored by your superior, just as you oversee your team. Plus, it is a test of personal integrity and leadership skills to sustain motivation and productivity levels through continually extended lockdowns.
Define your own accountability
Keep your eyes on the ball
Some accountability criteria are directly extrapolated from the traditional office: your goals should continue to be aligned with your company goals.
Once you are done setting up your team with the infrastructure and pep talks to commence working from home, you have to chart out all work activities in alignment with company goals just as before. You need to make your remote team continue to feel a part of the company, and work in tandem with these goals. This is the yardstick by which your contribution (or deviation from the norm) will be measured.
Acquaint yourself with the psychology of remote working
This is based more on your observations of how your team members behave in the office. How they handle stress, unexpected setbacks, work requests, attitude to deadlines etc. Identifying who is more likely to be better positioned to work from home, who can handle more responsibility without flinching, and who is honest with evaluating themselves are all invaluable information in assigning the right responsibilities to the right person.
If you’ve been one of those managers who stay on everyone’s case all the time, you will find it especially tough going. You can no longer see what everyone is doing, all the time. Think of this scenario as a golden opportunity to kick the habit of needing to be in control all the time.
You have to trust your team to do their work without your constant involvement, and delegate smartly. By giving trust, you gain trust. You won’t lose any power but you may certainly gain some popularity.
Pick up skills you need but didn’t have
Upskill on whatever you need to run a remote office. Set goals, give advice and feedback, formulate plans, set up tracking or quantification methods, listen to your team, sift data. Talk to your own superiors on areas where you feel you lack, and seek mentorship or essential training.
A case in point: if your deliverables have changed in the “new normal,” insist upon being given the tools and training to get there.
Track your own growth
Just as your team has applied itself to new challenges and rapidly gained new skill levels, so have you. Take a breather from time to time to assess how far you have come, and be sure to bring it up at your own evaluation.
After all, you’ve earned it!
To Sum Up
• Decide on the three most important objectives for each quarter. Plan and delegate tasks with these objectives in mind
• Find a collaboration tool that works for the team. Slack, Trello, Asana…the options are endless
• Schedule monthly reviews, at the very least, when the only focus for the day is to review past progress and decide what to do next
• Never micromanage on a daily basis. Hold people accountable, always, for what they said they’d do
• Work on yourself, too! There’s no better time than now to pick up new skills, or work with a coach to hone existing ones.