Remote leadership requires managers to have a special empathy for the situations of employees. You do not have to develop superpowers, but more humanity will do you and your team good.
For more than a month now, many teams have been working separated from their colleagues and increasingly remotely. Some of them still go to the office temporarily, others stay in their home office and additionally do home schooling for their children. During this time we are experiencing a creeping loss of social ties with colleagues and also with the manager. On top of that, there is increased pressure to work, because the crisis has become the new normal state. As already described in the last article, in many teams the tasks pile up due to a corona trouble shooting. In addition, it is a completely normal process that the person would like to continue at the same pace as before. However, please remember that we are in a crisis – a new situation that throws old behavior patterns out of kilter. The processing of day-to-day business is often blocked by the fact that the changed framework conditions must first be questioned and their effects analyzed. Balance expectations and pay attention to the scope for action that is opening up.
The personal working environment is also different: not only is there a lack of social ties with colleagues, which often promotes a smoother cooperation, no, for many people the working day in the office is also more structured than now the daily routine at home. In many families, it is not only the partner who sits at the common dining table in the home office, but also the children who want to be kept busy. Conflicting situations are virtually inevitable. The concentration of different tasks and roles can lead to less productivity and reduced mental health. Not all employees are familiar with mindfulness methods or are able to set themselves apart and take care of their mental health themselves.
So what can you as a manager do to create incentives for the mental health of your employees? Even without knowing every single family situation.
Let’s start with the perspective on your team. What makes your team special? Create socializing opportunities such as the weekly Friday afternoon coffee and consciously take time to talk about topics that are not directly related to specific work assignments and the crisis.
At the end of the week, reflect on how the team was feeling. Who was actively involved? Who was particularly quiet and for whom is this behaviour untypical? Even in the case of regular appointments or work meetings, deliberately allow 5 minutes at the beginning to get a picture of the mood. The first appointments of the day are particularly suitable for this. And pay particular attention to employees who have just retreated a bit. Individual telephone calls are better suited to highlight individual situations than team calls.
You have another lever to take care of the team culture and the mental health of your employees: How do you distribute tasks? Do you use the push principle and do you assign them to your employees? Or do you present the tasks at the team meeting and offer the pull principle? So anyone can pull a task. The pull-principle also allows you to ask concrete questions, if nobody takes on a task. This way you also learn what obstacles individual employees have to overcome in order to work effectively.
The pull principle also allows you to think about tools together to create transparency about all tasks at hand. Brainstorm in the team how you can create the best possible situation. There are many agile methods and tools that make your work easier, such as a KANBAN board. With it you can also see who has capacities and distribute the tasks better.
And last but not least: Celebrate even small successes. Because the skills you are currently learning with your team will remain with you and will be useful for the next challenge.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.