For a few weeks now, work in many companies has been taking place mainly from the home office, teams work in a distributed manner and the coordination of professional and family tasks presents a particular challenge for everyone. What can you as a manager do now to get a flow back into the processes?
In this situation, you can now demonstrate two strengths: On the one hand, it is important to structure the tasks with your team in such a way that they can be mastered well. This means: tasks, timing and agreements must be clearly formulated and transparent for everyone. On the other hand, you as a manager are now particularly called upon to maintain team spirit and to respond to interpersonal needs. A lot of information is now pouring in on you and your team and it helps to think things through carefully: How should this information be processed? And what other tasks need to be dealt with. Schedule different meetings with different objectives and formats.
It is much more important than with analogous work to think about what kind of tasks your team has to deal with: Are they simply structured standard tasks whose processing hardly differs from analog processing? Or are they complex tasks whose solution requires creativity and different perspectives? Reflect: Who in my team has the skills for these tasks and what exchange format is needed to arrive at a solution? Initiate these formats and clearly name the responsibilities.
On top, the developments of the Corona crisis provide additional tasks. Again, reflection is advisable: Is it about evaluating the current situation and the effects of the corona crisis on your team? Think about how you as a team want to react to the now rapidly changing situation. It may make sense to hold short meetings more frequently to discuss the current situation. Involve your team in your considerations and develop a common approach. If you want to share your subjective impressions with each other, an open, informal meeting is also suitable at off-peak times of the day. In this way a common mood of the team can develop. If you only have limited time for team meetings, try to separate these parts (creative thinking, brainstorming, sounding, open question round) and task coordination well from each other by agenda items.
You are now also the first guardian of the team spirit, and rooms should be created for this as well: What makes the team? How would it deal with these challenges analogously? And now try to create these discussions and spaces digitally. The basis you can contribute to this is to establish a culture of trust and to have patience and understanding for the individual situations of your team members. This can include making a personal telephone call to ask how your team members are doing and also to encourage cooperation with more reserved team members. You can achieve this by deliberately distributing work orders to two people, even if this would normally be done by one person. This gives you emotional security and faster processing as a positive side effect.
Last but not least, it helps to remember that the cooperation in your team is mainly auditory and visual. To put it bluntly, everyone looks at a screen all day long and moves less than in the usual office routine. In addition to this restriction of movement, there is also the fact that even short personal arrangements now have to be planned “extra”, be it by a phone call or a short personal message. Even conflicting topics are only recorded and processed auditively and visually. This means that your employees must now learn to verbalize all reactions and also emotions. This requires a lot of concentration and practice. As a manager you can set a good example and start to describe your perceptions of situations and issues, to share first impulses and feelings on new developments. Remember to take breaks or change places again and again.
As a conclusion you can record: You do not only have to coordinate who does what. It is much more important to reflect beforehand on the challenges that await your team and the formats you will use to structure them while at the same time keeping the team going.