We can all agree that 2020 has taken a few twists and turns. The way we work has been altered for the foreseeable future. Your management handbook has been ripped into pieces and as employees juggle homeschooling, relatives, and a never ending news cycle, you’re probably wondering how to keep up. We work with hundreds of team leads at Shamaym, and we wanted to share our perspective on how the management role has shifted in just a few short months.
Micromanagement = Out
Almost overnight, the world moved to remote work, requiring extra effort from managers to connect with employees and understand what they’re working on. If your management style revolves around constant check-ins, that may no longer work, and an attempt to retain it may take a toll on your team. Whether you like it or not, your team is at home, which means they are distracted by children, chores, or a partner sharing an office or couch.
What You Can Do: Trust and support your employees. Really. Recognize that everyone is overwhelmed right now. This means you might have to be flexible on meeting times, implement a team break throughout the day, or check email at non-traditional hours. You can’t see what everyone’s doing all the time, but if you are worried about whether they’re working, why are they there in the first place? Give your team clearly communicated goals, and allow for some wiggle room in regards to how they get there.
Transparency = In
Work from home means less face time and varying work schedules. In this environment it becomes increasingly important to encourage transparency, a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing updates, learning from what’s working—and what’s not—and suggesting new ways of action.
At a leadership level this means frequently communicating on company, team, and individual goals and direction pivots. It also means creating space for employees to feel comfortable sharing struggles, asking for, and providing feedback. Clear communication about change directly impacts productivity, performance, and employee commitment.
What You Can Do: Ensure consistent communication and feedback across your organization and team. Speak honestly with your employees to understand what’s working and what’s not, and how you can support them during this time. When they return the favor, listen! If this feels uncomfortable over a video chat (it will), try a regular phone call, a dedicated Slack channel or a platform specifically for feedback.
Learning = In
With the unemployment rate topping 30% in parts of the United States, the pandemic has led to a massive increase in employees looking to increase their value by upgrading their skills. Even companies that avoided layoffs are feeling a need to adopt new technologies and skills as they shift to remote work and adjust priorities to meet changing market demands. In this reality, companies that had learning and improvement systems in place before the pandemic, systems that helped employees change directions quickly, will feel less of a shock.
What You Can Do: If your company offers professional development opportunities, encourage your employees to take full advantage. Try to understand your team members’ career goals and what new skills will help achieve them. No professional development funds? Look for opportunities to include team members on projects that expand their skills, and let them take on new challenges that allow for their growth. Remember that, as a manager, a big part of your job is helping your employees prepare for their next career jump.
Motivation = Out
Your people are burnt out from too many Zoom calls, not enough separation between work and home, lack of vacation, overcommunication, and social stress—and that’s not going away anytime soon. In a recent Eagle Hill Consulting poll, 45% of employees reported feeling burnt out, resulting in lower connection, positivity, and productivity. In other words, almost half your team is seriously feeling this (and the other half probably hasn’t admitted it yet).
What You Can Do: Just because you can contact your team at any time of day or night, doesn’t mean you should. Respect work hours as if you were in the office and give everyone a chance to unwind daily. If you’ve worked to maintain a transparent culture, be sure to check in with your employees on non-work related issues to identify potential stressors and support them with possible solutions. If you’re in a position to provide mental health days or additional days off, consider giving your team that extra time to refresh.
Agile = In
How quickly did your organization adapt to the new normal? Did you adopt new technologies, implement a communication plan, or identify your biggest areas of potential impact? The economic, social, and cultural impacts of COVID-19 (and beyond) will increasingly require companies to innovate so they can keep pace. Now is the time to reflect and understand what worked, and what tools or practices you need to put in place for your team to iterate quickly.
What You Can Do: Look back honestly on how your team and company have adjusted to the new normal, and think about where you could improve. Which technologies helped, and which held you back? Even when it’s time to bring your people back to the office, the return will likely be a slow trickle. You’ll need to make sure you can make these adjustments without disrupting your workflow too much.
Few people are adequately prepared for their first management role, and no one was prepared for 2020. Still, your team expects guidance, transparency, and flexibility as we all pull through this. Are you ready?