Taking Care of Your People

The ten actions leaders should take with their employees while working remotely

Change and uncertainty is stressful to many people, especially when the stressors impact our jobs and our families. We are all managing our new reality with this Covid-19 virus and the disruption to our typical routines.

Leaders have a responsibility to maintain their supportive presence, especially now. If you are new to managing remote teams or even if you are a veteran manager, review these actions and think about what it means in your world to take care of your people.

The upside to living through tough times is resilience.

  1. Get Personal – Schedule time to check on your employees every day – whether it’s a Slack message or a phone call. And by check on, we don’t mean micro-manage their output. Now is the time to shift towards humanity and ask if their kids are staying busy, if they have the things they need to be productive, or how their loved ones are managing?
  2. Team Roundup – Initiate a discussion with your team about how best to communicate as a team? What’s the frequency? Will you utilize a chat room or Zoom call? Will everyone use their video? Then set it up!
  3. Culture First – How do you and your team live company values during a time of stress? Have a discussion at your team meetings and check-ins about this. You’ll enjoy the examples of “collaboration” or “persistence” from that view and it will generate plenty of opportunities for leadership guidance.
  4. Schedule Recess – How do you keep workplace norms alive and relevant? For example, if you typically eat lunch together at the office, how about brown-bagging over a Zoom call? Do you enjoy photos of your pets? Create a way to circulate fun videos and photos to the team. The ideas are endless.
  5. A New (Work)Day – Every person is living under different circumstances. Ask each member of the team to share what their workdays might realistically look like? What are the distractions and realities of quarantining? Establishing norms will short-circuit any misunderstandings.
  6. Let’s Be Clear – Creating clarity is the majority of your job as a leader. Don’t stop sharing take-aways from other leadership or team meetings with your employees. Be realistic about deadlines and deliverables after a discussion on responsibilities and prioritization. Filter and consolidate concerns or questions that you cannot address to your senior leaders to discuss. Healthy organizations and leaders drive to clarity.
  7. Equip, don’t Examine – Your employees now have multiple jobs — the one they are doing for you, and the one(s) brought on by this health situation.  For example, your employees with school age children have just become teachers along with running a home and doing the work they do for you.  See if you can find resources for your employees and provide them in a helpful, referral way.  This means not asking them how they are doing things, but rather say, “Hey, I know you have a third-grader.  My nephew likes the site “Sam the Spelling Squirrel.”  If they use your recommendations doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you offered them.
  8. Know When to Stop – Let your people know that they can have flexibility around their lunch time, breaks to stretch or take a walk, and when to log off at the end of the day. As long as they get their work done and follow a typical workday schedule, no micromanagement of their time will help. Keep in mind they might have a family working from home that needs attention as well.
  9. Motivation is not a Given – We are all victims of the joys of procrastination and the invitation to lay on our couch when working from home. Help your people stay motivated and remind them “why” what they do is important and how they are contributing to the whole. When you are working remotely it is easy to forget that there is something greater than ourselves.
  10. Say Thank You a lot – Acknowledge that everyone is struggling and that you appreciate the fact that your people are taking care of business as usual.

Remember that especially during times like this, Your People are still Your Solution.

Eric Larsen, Amy Robertson, Orit Ramler Szulik

March 27, 2020