Our employees are overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out. And that was before the Covid-19 crisis! Now they have a whole new mess of problems to deal with: worrying about the virus, fear about what will happen to the economy, working remotely for the first time, trying to manage their kids at home, struggling to adapt to new technology, increased conflict with their partner from being cooped up inside…it’s A LOT. Meanwhile, we’re trying to get them to be as productive as possible and G.S.D (Get Shit Done).
If you’re anything like the clients we’ve been talking to over the last few weeks, you’re struggling just to keep your own head above water let alone be the kind of leader your remote team needs right now. While there’s no manual or precedent for dealing with a large-scale global epidemic in this modern age, we’ve been coaching our clients on how to pivot and adapt their businesses while leading their teams to success. No matter what industry you’re in or what catastrophe you’re facing, there are only three things you need to focus on as a leader to effectively manage your workforce and cultivate high performance.
1) Decrease Fear
Your people are scared. They are facing the unknown just like you.
As their leader your most important job is to decrease their fear. Even if the future looks bleak, your people want to know you have a plan to take care of them and see them safely through this storm. They want to know they can count on you, that you’ve got their back, and you’re here for them.
One of the most effective ways to decrease fear is to ask your people what they want from you. Start by listening and leaning in. It may be different for every person, but you owe it to them to take the time to ask great questions, be an even better listener, and find a way to meet them where they are. Then authentically contextualize your mission and vision in a way that employees can relate to and find meaningful. And communicate, communicate, communicate. Take a look at our 4 C’s of Connection in Virtual Work – scroll down to get a free copy of our Remote Management Toolbox.
2) Increase Safety
Along with decreasing fear, you need to increase every team member’s sense of safety. When you start by turning your workplace upside down and listening to your people, you’ll have a good sense of where to begin. Understand that people need people and that we are interconnected beings. The biggest challenge is the lack of community and perceived empathy,
But even more importantly, you’ll have taken a big step toward decreasing their sense of isolation. If your team is working remotely for the first time, they’ll quickly start to feel alone and adrift in the world. It’s up to you to make sure your team is connecting to you and with each other on a regular basis. Have at least two real connections per week that asks how they are doing. And make sure to use video – verbal communication is only 7% of total communication! Additionally, appoint a communication czar to make sure it works well with your team.
Start now. Implement daily or weekly video calls. Create a Slack channel where people can check in with each other during the day. And spend time demonstrating you care by coaching your team members through their specific challenges. Let them help each other and create a buddy system.
3) Solve the Emotional Component
In times of turmoil, it’s normal for emotions to run high. As a leader, you need to make sure you’re helping your team process their emotions in a way that is healthy and productive. Make sure you’re regularly addressing these five areas on your check-ins with your remote team:
1) Self-Care: Discuss the importance of self-care and share strategies for individual success. Routines, schedules, and how to deal with kids at home and connections.
2) Learn: Make sure your team has the tools and resources to support their learning and development with new skills for the virtual workplace and great communication tips.
3) Growth: If there is down time, encourage personal and professional growth along with real creativity. What are some great ideas they can come up with for themselves to add big value for a future which will be super different and better than what we’ve experienced?
4) Mindset: Share practical ways each person can work on reframing their thoughts and help them through any mindset blocks. Remember, we need connection and help.
5) Connect: Illustrate the importance of connecting person-to-person and encourage team members to communicate over phone or video instead of email and text.
If you focus on just these three things and follow our hacks and tools, I guarantee you will see dramatic improvement in the performance and productivity of your remote team. While we are all being challenged to work differently, there is NO reason your team cannot continue to execute at a high level.
Need help implementing these strategies? Looking for personalized help for your organization? Reach out to us – the first session is always complimentary! We can deliver virtual keynotes, online workshops, and remote high-performance coaching to help your team continue to succeed and thrive.