In today’s world of working from home, a recession, and health concerns from a global pandemic, leaders need to do more than manage team members, they need to make sure that their team’s core needs are being met. Gone are the days of only being concerned with personal growth and career achievements. Employees are now looking to meet more basic needs around safety, belongingness, and esteem. This is an opportunity for leaders to dive deeper into understanding their employees’ needs in order to build a higher level of trust. Team members are not able to properly focus on their daily responsibilities if they are living in a world of fear, anxiety, and isolation.
Anyone Can Lead
Just because you are not an executive does not mean you cannot be a leader. There is less one on one face time from your home office with the top decision-makers at your company. Many of the impromptu conversations with the leadership team at the office are not happening. Anybody can step up and take initiative in the new work environment. This is an opportunity to make the best out of the situation and showcase your ability to lead by building trust with your peers.
Act like your being watched
Just because you are not wandering up and down the hallways between meetings does not mean people do not see you. Employees are always looking for someone to set an example for them. The actions that you take as a leader, even if from your home office, will impact the behavior and culture of your organization. Team members will take your lead, whether you show high levels of trust or anxiety. Your leadership will directly impact your team’s work environment even if it is from home.
Until recently many employees looked at their job as a big part of their community. Working adults spend the majority of your week engaging with your managers and colleagues. That impacts your mental health. Having team members only engage when there are deliverables does not create a sense of community or loyalty. Building an environment where people have their professional and emotional needs met directly increases employee satisfaction and retention.
Think Outside Of The Box
You have either willingly or unwillingly been put into a challenging leadership position. Remote work leadership requires a different mindset and the ability to adapt to a new environment. This means not only creating new ways to engage and lead your team but creating entirely new communication processes. Now that your team is working from home are they getting the instruction they need to do their job? Are they getting the support they need to do their job? Are they given the trust and flexibility to do their job?
Just thinking about the list of things that employees have to deal with in this new world makes my head spin. your team’s world got turned upside down, just like yours. Dogs are gonna bark, kids are gonna cry, and packages are gonna get delivered. This new world has team members worrying about the economy, worrying about their elderly family members, and figuring out how to home school their kids while working. This situation is not going to last forever, but the actions you take will live in the memories of your team members for the rest of their lives.
This is not a good time to be a bad communicator. It is a great time to read Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Be considerate of other people’s needs while communicating your own needs. Humans are complex and the current world is increasing mental health issues for your employees. Take the time to consider the impact that your message and communication style have on your team in a remote work environment. There is clearly a need to over-communicate, but there is also a need to be considerate when communicating, making sure that you lower anxiety and solve problems instead of creating new ones.
Get To Know People
I know you have deadlines, everybody does. There is a strong temptation to move through meetings as quickly as possible to save time. Taking the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your team will pay off in the form of more consistent and concise communication within your team. This might not be something that you see value in doing at the office, but when working remotely those couple of minutes before and after meetings can make a big impact in solidifying team relationships. When your team has good relationships and strong communication there is time saved in the communication process.
There have been many article about how employers are increasing supervision in the new remote world. Increased trust and autonomy unlock the true benefits of remote work. If you have a rigid and highly supervised remote work environment you will not see employees adapt to their new environment.
There are many things that make people better leaders. The current world that we live in has created a unique environment where only the most adaptable leaders will thrive. Micromanagers that bark orders and maintain an iron fist over their team’s work environment through increased supervision will see their team’s productivity decline, communication deteriorate and isolation increase. It is a recipe for failure as a leader. Understanding the current work from home environment as well as your team’s emotional state will allow you to be empathetic to their needs and remove many of the mental health issues created from an increase in anxiety.
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