Managers play a key role in the success of their teams, especially during times of uncertainty and change.
Information for managers
Role of the manager
Lead by example
Model the recommended work from home habits. Be a positive example of the guidance, and make sure to reinforce inclusion. Check in with your employees, ask for perspectives, and identify any areas for improvement.
Support in new ways
Help each person create their best and most productive work from home environment. Understand any business continuity concerns of your team and support their efforts at working in new ways. Be curious and ask questions that empower employees to find their own solutions.
Establish that is is ok to be responsive and accessible regardless of what is going on around you. During this time everyone will understand if there are unexpected interruptions from children or family members.
These are unusual times with unanticipated challenges and may require more frequent check-ins. You are still responsible for their mental and physical wellbeing when they are working remotely.
- Be mindful of challenges people have. Conditions will not be ideal and some people will have more challenges than others.
- Trust that your team members are working. Some people actually end up putting in MORE hours and working harder when they're at home. Monitor this. Don't let people burn out.
- Let your team know they're doing a good job. Tell them you appreciate their adaptability.
- Check in personally with your team. Not just about work, check on their personal situation too.
Free, confidential counselling is available via the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Maintain social connections
Maintaining social connections is important for successful teams in times of significant change and stress. Let your team know that it is still ok to have fun.
Consider establishing a Webex Teams space for non-work related chat or schedule in video coffee catch ups.
What you can do as a leader to keep your team productive
- Check-ins. Be very clear with your team how and when you expect them to communicate and check in. At a minimum team members should report on what they completed yesterday, what they are working on today and any roadblocks they are encountering.
- Team roles. Clarify who will be responsible for what when working remotely.
- Who leads? Re-evaluate the chain of command. If team members are sick who makes decisions or picks up critical tasks?
- Communication. Develop a communication plan and decide how you will communicate.
Create a communication plan
A team communication plan will help to set expectations and establish structure.
- Communication goals. Establish 2-4 agreed upon goals on the use of email, video calls and messaging through Webex Teams (or a similar UOW supported platform) setting expectations, contact information and team preferences.
- Formal and informal communication methods. Define how team meetings, one-on-one meetings, email, messaging and other communication platforms will be used during this period.
- Expectations of each other. The team should collaborate and agree on timelines, deadlines, accountability and managing conflict.
- Buddy system. Each team should have buddy to cover for them and communicate in their unexpected absence.
- Evaluate the plan. Check in weekly to see how the plan is working.
Be transparent and provide regular updates
When working remotely, managers and direct reports should be transparent with what they are working on each day.
You might consider regular meetings using video conferencing and collaboration tools with senior leaders providing department specific updates on how they are reordering priorities and re-conceptualising successful outcomes. At the same time it is important to recognise that this is not "business as usual".
Remember to remain generous and patient with other as you all learn new ways of working in this challenging time. People will make mistakes. Technology won't work as planned. You will learn the "Etiquette" of collaborating over distance and via new platforms.
Can any good come of this? Think about opportunities
- Creativity. You could get some amazing ideas and creativity from your team.
- Productivity. Less meetings and office distraction may mean more work getting done. Focus on what matters.
- Self leadership. Team members will need to self-manage and self motivate. Some will really step up!
- Less travel. Some people may get 2 hours a day back without travelling.
- Rehearsal. This may provide opportunities for more flexible working arrangements in the future.
- Technology. Those with less appetite for technology will have to start using it!
- Upskilling. Staff may have time to self develop with online courses.