It is important to note that many of your core and well-established leadership skills and qualities will support you to manage this situation. Familiar skills such as listening, compassion, care and availability (even if not in person), will all be key over this period.
Remember you have vital tools for remote working such as:
- Microsoft Teams
Use calendars effectively and use specific Skype functions to communicate with your colleagues, such as conference calls and sharing your screens. You can still hold team meetings and have regular one to ones using these tools.
Tips to help you manage your team
Here are some tips to help you manage team emotions during this unprecedented time:
What we're facing is unpredictable and it’s likely you'll encounter different levels of fear from your employees.
Try and exercise personal control, you can do this by planning for any meetings or virtual meetings, consider the range of emotions you may be met with, think of worst-case scenarios so you are not surprised. Try to help others remain level-headed and rational.
It’s ok to take a break, pause, go for a walk, taking time to think before responding to your team if it helps you regain some emotional control.
Be confident and positive
Express confidence in the council, the people we work with and the direction we are moving in. Remember; it’s ok to have private doubts but reinforce a positive message to your team:
Inspire others, hold steady and persevere. Continue to be dedicated and passionate what we are doing.
Try to have an awareness of what others are experiencing in response to this crisis. Respond with genuine compassion and listen to your employees. Use your emotional intelligence; the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions and handle interpersonal relationship with empathy.
Watch this short video on using your emotional intelligence at work:
Watch this short video created by the RSA showing the difference between empathy and sympathy:
There will be times when you feel frustrated or discouraged. This is ok. If you can, try and reframe the situation to be more positive. Examine areas of your work right now which drains your time and resources. If these are not critical, then park them for now. Make room for more balance and wellbeing.
At times of heightened anxiety, employees look to and are comforted by those they trust. Be reassuring with your team, support the messages from all leaders across the organisation.
Remember, communication is not a one-way street. There must be a balanced “talk-listen ratio”. Keep messages clear and concise, reminding your employees what is important. Simple and clear goals.
Listening may be one of your strengths, or you may be wondering whether you could improve your listening skills. Watch this short video the Samaritans have produced with some simple tips to improve listening skills:
This is key; information is powerful because it can:
- reduce emotional distress caused by the unknown
- diminish fear
- provide guidance
- demonstrate involvement and care for your team
Let your team know how best to reach you. Your team may want to hear from you more frequently, so when you appear calm, concerned and in charge, they will feel encouraged and have more confidence that things are under control.
While research has shown that those who work from home tend to be more productive, in these exceptional circumstances you should not expect this to be true. Employees will be distracted and have other priorities around their families, health and community. We need to allow for this.
You may be concerned with how you can exercise control and monitor progress of their teams remotely. This can lead to a negative spiral of micromanagement. You need to be able to build trust remotely and find new ways of coaching and developing your team.
The number of hours spent online, how long they spend on their lunch, taking their dog for a walk; none of these are important but their outcomes are. Accept productivity levels will change but be clear on what their responsibilities are during this time.
More resources for managing your team through this time
Read this article from Josh Bersin about what the coronavirus teaches us about leadership.