As we are working from home and it looks like it will stay that way (at least some of the week for most people), how to you as a team leader manage your team to keep them engaged and thriving?
While tech is a great area that has adapted well to working from home you still have to take steps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Communication is more important not only to ensure you have the same goals but also to help them feel part of the team and not isolated.
From speaking to companies we work with we have found these 7 steps can help you manage your team effectively.
1. Set & manage expectations
It has always been important to set expectations for a team. Remote working makes this more important. Clear expectation that you clarify to ensure you both have the same understanding helps with team motivation. Don't assume that your team member understands and that their focus is in the same direction as yours. You should also establish expectations around responding to after-hours work e-mails & calls. It's easy to get caught up and think they are always available day and night. However having no separation between home & office makes it difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance and can lead to burn out.
2. Be flexible
Being flexible can help you manage the work/life balance of your team. If someone likes working early and finishing early to let them pick up their children from school then as long as they are working their agreed core hours and getting their tasks completed that should be possible. Everyone has a different home environment and challenges that they have to deal with. If you are focusing on the outcome when it is being done should not be an issue for a motivated team.
3. Over communicate
Talk to your team as often as you can. Let them know what you are all working towards and why. Ask for their opinions. Ask if they need help. Listen to them. Show empathy and let them know you acknowledge their concerns. Let them be involved and come up with ideas. Don't do this though over frequent long zoom calls though. There is a balance between constantly firing off emails, slack messages etc and radio silence - you need to work out what that balance is for all of your team members.
4. Build connections and be available to your team
If you are working remotely it becomes more important than ever to build connections with your team. As you are missing out on going for lunch or for coffee it's difficult to build the human connection but these are vital if you want to have a motivated team. Working from home can be lonely - while some people like peace others crave interaction. Can you do some events - either virtually or in person (when it's allowed) to allow people to build connections? These should be separate from work meetings and focus on non-work related topics. Virtual happy hour anyone? They can seem fake but research shows they do help.
5. Resist the urge to micromanage
You didn't check over the shoulders of your team when you were in the office so there is no need to do this when they are working from home. If you are communicating with your team and have the goals and deadlines set then micromanaging is not necessary.
6. Provide resources & remove obstacles
Not everyone has a home office they can go to and close the door on. They have families, roommates, limited space, and all the normal day to day distractions. These and lack of social interaction can have an effect on their mental health. Do your team members need training or a coach? Can you provide this to help them feel they are being supported by you as a manager? They may not have the money for the fastest wifi or new laptops & noise reducing headsets. You may have to shift your already strained budget to help with some of these. Other issues you can help with by following the ideas mentioned above.
7. Celebrate success.
More than ever you should celebrate success - no matter how small. It all adds up and makes everyone feel part of a team. It may not be possible to meet in person to celebrate these but celebrating milestones makes everyone in the team feel that they are valued and that the team as a whole is achieving their goals.
If you would like to see how we can help you with your tech team schedule a call with one of our product experts to find out more