Managing people remotely
As a manager, it is important to ensure that your team understands the big picture and how their individual role fits into the department, Faculty and College strategy. You should be proactive in sharing information with your team, such as appropriate updates or learning from other meetings and projects and invite your team to do the same. During periods of uncertainty, such as the current situation, sharing information with your team is vital in helping them to feel safe and secure.
Set clear expectations
Be clear about what it is that you expect from members of your team in terms of outputs and trust them to deliver on these. Remember that context matters, and many individuals will be dealing with increased levels of stress and anxiety during this uncertain time, as well as struggling to work in an environment that is less than ideal, perhaps with added caring responsibilities. It is important to take this into account when setting expectations and involve the individual in this process. Make sure that your team has the equipment and resources that they need to succeed, which may include coaching, training, access to systems etc.
Keep in touch
It is important to establish regular check-ins with your team, through 1-2-1 and team meetings, in order to ensure that communication channels remain open and effective. This is especially important when working remotely, as your team members may not have the opportunity to communicate with you as frequently as they would in the office. Make time for social conversations with members of your team to help foster relationships. You will find that it is much easier to have challenging or sensitive conversations with members of your team where you have already established a good relationship with the individual. Developing a good understanding of what drives and motivates your team members will help you get to know them as individuals.
Lead by example
As a leader/manager, members of your team will look to you to set the tone of what is and isn’t acceptable. In order to establish a workplace culture where wellbeing is a priority, you need to role model positive behaviours in front of your team. Make sure that you are visibly taking time off to rest and re-charge, use your full annual leave entitlement and take regular lunch breaks. Create time in your working day for exercise, or other activities that can help to reduce stress. Take time off when you are unwell to avoid ‘presenteeism’. Take advantage of flexible working opportunities to help achieve a better work-life balance and be vocal about it! Try to avoid working excessive hours, emailing your team outside of hours, or checking emails whilst on holiday. If it can’t be avoided, make it clear that you don’t expect a reply immediately - a default email signature can communicate this in a concise way.
Reflect on your own management style
Consider how your management style may impact on members of your team and be open to feedback. Management isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t a one size fits all approach! We are all constantly learning more effective ways to get the best out of the people that we manage. Remember that people can be more sensitive if they’re feeling isolated or anxious, so it is likely that your management style will be impacting your team now more than ever before. Some questions to ask yourself are: Do your team know where they stand with you, or can you be unpredictable? How much feedback (both positive and constructive) do you give? Are you approachable? Do you handle conflict, or do you let it fester? Do you offer a good balance of autonomy and support?
To yourself and others.