COVID-19 has altered the way we do business—and with that, comes necessary management changes.
There was no question that in 2020 industries had to pivot in order to remain in operation. For many organizations, that meant closing down office spaces and adapting to working remotely. With such a quick about-face, employees went from gathering in huddle rooms to gathering in Zoom rooms, dressing up to dressing down, and juggling the demands of work and home simultaneously. As a result, managers have had to revise expectations, improve communication, and add more empathy into how they operate.
The phrase, "If you don't bend, you'll break," easily applies to the events of 2020 as flexibility is now a coveted trait in a manager. For so long we've expected the working world to always consist of face-to-face interactions with clients and coworkers, to participate in teambuilding exercises, and have a polished, put-together demeanor at all times. Managers may now feel powerless and ineffective with all these changes—especially if they're used to daily interactions with direct reports for eight hours a day. Whether you've been a manager for one year or 20 years, give the five tips below some consideration when navigating the uncharted territory of remote work.
Don't Lower Your Expectations—Revise Them
You may have been used to having engaged, ready-to-work employees the second they walked in the door, but now with them working at home alongside children or significant others, you'll need to make room for distractions and frustrations. Maintain your deadlines, but keep them reasonable with a few days' notice. Also, don't be surprised if work projects are submitted later in the evening when dinners are finished and children are put to bed.
Let Your Employees Vent
Now is the time to show a bit of mercy. Everyone is dealing with a high degree of stress in different ways and letting your employees voice their struggles and concerns offers a lifeline that will not only let them breathe more easily but they'll trust your leadership even more.
Maintain Open & Frequent Communication
Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings and first-thing-in-the-morning team huddles get everyone on the same page and help keep a pulse on how projects are getting done. Consistent virtual meetups will not only help your employees feel less isolated, but they'll also have a regular event to prepare for. If communication is a weakness, consider this your marching orders to improve this trait—lest you want any details to get lost in translation.
Go Back to School
Since no one is going anywhere for a while, you may as well consider heading back to school to sharpen up your business acumen and further your leadership skills. University of Denver's Daniels College of Business has a 10-month Master of Science in Management program that explores a variety of projects and real-world business challenges that'll give your career a serious overhaul. It also doesn't hurt that you get to meet new people through the process which is certainly welcome given the limited social interactions available at present.
Prepare to Stay Remote
A lot of companies have discovered during the shutdowns how much they can save by going remote and have no plans to re-establish their in-person work environment. As such, many companies will soon be hiring remote talent from all over the country—not just from the next county. If remote work does become the new normal, you as a manager will have to display effective leadership skills that can be applied both in-person and online so that executives can trust you and your team will get the job done—no matter where you are.