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In the context of recent events, while we’re all facing the same situation, everyone’s circumstances are different. We might not know who has a vulnerable family member or mental or physical condition.
As a great team manager, you’re probably all over this, but why not scan the page for a few reminders about leading with compassion and empathy, as well as practicing self-compassion. Here’s the latest from Robert Kostecki, group manager for the Six Senses Mission Wellness initiative.
Show genuine empathy
Being empathetic is an important trait for any leader, whether in a physical or remote office. Leaders need to recognize that remote workplaces can create special situations that require more empathy because of the lack of physical proximity. For example, just because one of your team members doesn’t answer their phone on the first ring, doesn’t mean they’re not working. Electronic communication can often be more ambiguous than face-to-face communication because so much of how we communicate happens with our body language and eyes. This may cause leaders to misinterpret digital communications such as email and WhatsApp. Leaders who recognize this and practice empathy and patience, rather than jumping to conclusions about a person’s tone or intention help cultivate an environment of trust, openness and improved performance.
Purposeful, regular communication
Working in a remote location can leave team members feeling disconnected from their leaders, colleagues and from what’s happening in the company. Leaders of remote teams need to address this with regular communication, recognizing that keeping colleagues engaged, connected and informed leads to better work quality and increased productivity. Look for opportunities to create multiple points of contact throughout the week in a way that works for everyone.
Make requirements and expectations clear
Misunderstandings and assumptions are common even in the great teams and can be amplified when people are working remotely. Be deliberate in making your requirements and expectations clear, and encourage your team to summarize their understanding, ask questions or seek clarity. Agree and schedule regular check-ins to exchange updates, review progress (or change of course or priority) and ensure the remote worker is always up-to-speed on any decisions or actions that might impact their work. Establishing an ongoing dialogue prevents big mistakes later but you should also encourage your team to communicate their needs or questions so they can stay on task and meet their commitments.
Although it might sound counter-intuitive, remote working leads to increased productivity if colleagues are supported to find rhythms and routines that work for them. Some people work best by getting up early. Others work best between 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm and their pattern might not be your pattern. Allow your team to maximize their own schedule around the work and trust them to deliver. If you are constantly worrying about whether a team member is being productive, there is a greater issue of trust that needs to be addressed.
One of the biggest issues remote teams face is a lack of trust. If you want to build a
high-performing team based on mutual trust and respect, it’s up to you to be the role model.
Things to consider:
If your team doesn’t feel that they can trust you and that you are watching out for their best interests, their motivation, commitment and productivity will nosedive.
Leaders play a critical role in ensuring their teams have work-life balance and don’t feel they need to be available all the time. Encourage your colleagues to set appropriate work hours with breaks and stick to them. Take time to check-in on how your team are feeling as well as how their work is progressing, and find out how they are really doing while working from home.
As the days grow shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere and we head into autumn, this is the time of the year when nature comes alive with those deep and rich tones of color. These nourishing and warm autumn colors tell us, just like the tree that’s shedding its leaves, that it’s time let out a deep sigh for all the hard work of spring and summer and time to let go of what is no longer needed, and to prepare to slow down and go inwards.