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The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Your Team During COVID

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed every aspect of our lives. When it comes to business, work is done very differently than ever before. Businesses have had to undergo intense change management as they adapt to having their employees work remotely.

This situation has ushered in somewhat of a “hybrid” working environment. Some people still perform their duties in part in a physical office, and work from home for the balance of the week. Still others are either working 100% on-site or 100% remotely.

So, how can managers keep the lines of communication open, and ensure every employee has what they need to accomplish their tasks, even as their work and home life becomes even more intertwined?

We have put together some Do’s and Don’ts to help you support your team during these unprecedented times.

Do provide a framework

As mentioned, leading a team in an office can be challenging on the best of days, and remote leadership has thrown a new curveball for CEO’s and managers. The first thing that is helpful to do is to create the virtual “rules of the road.”  Everyone knows what to expect, including how and where work will be done, how and when to communicate and which technology will be used.

Do stay in touch  

Do this both individually and as a team. It’s all the more important now to have weekly 1:1 and team meetings since you can’t casually meet in an office. Ensure that you are focused and willing to actively listen during these meetings to ensure everyone is heard and that you are all aligned with the week’s duties and deliverables.

Don’t assume managing is the same when everyone is remote 

Not only is everyone separated, but life and work have changed dramatically – things that used to be simple may now take more time and effort. The once ever-confident office executive may be finding it hard juggling a young child at home while trying to carry out their demanding duties. You can’t just drop by the desk of an employee to check in. You have to schedule more time in your calendar to have calls. With everyone at home 24/7, it can be easy to assume that means your employees are even more available –  but carving out boundaries to help your employees balance work and home will be a huge boost to morale.

Do make time for team building 

This is all the more important with everyone apart, especially if you bring on new team members. Helping everyone stay connected is the best way to keep everyone working productively. When new members join, let them know who else is on the team and what their duties are. Let them know how everyone’s duties are connected to the overall goal of the business. While you can’t be away at a retreat, you can still do some fun team events virtually!

Don’t get caught up in a schedule 

This is especially important for staff at home with children or partners, as their former schedule may not make sense anymore. If there is flexibility, chat with your team to see if a flexible work schedule will help them be more productive. This is key to helping your people thrive!

Do acknowledge the hard things 

Empowering your team to feel understood and supported is critical – acknowledging the ways in which their lives have changed and become more challenging lets them, and you, better understand how to achieve the team’s goals.

Don’t assume everyone is the same

The office makes work a more level playing field, but working from home means each employee’s situation is vastly different. One person may be able to continue the same as before, whereas another employee may have had their life turned upside down. Connect with each employee to check on how you can support them individually. 

Do focus on outputs

With uncertain at-home schedules, give your staff the freedom to manage their time, and focus more on outcomes than hours. In fact, when people have more flexibility and control over their schedules, they can actually be even more productive. It’s no longer about “watching” how they work, but embracing the idea that your employees can still be responsible for their roles – they may even be more relaxed and creative as a result.

Do make expectations clear  

Take this opportunity to do an internal ‘reset’ and make expectations clear with your team members, especially if the nature of their work has changed. If employees don’t know exactly what is required of them in their role or what performance indicators they are expected to hit, they simply cannot do their job effectively. Having a clear guide gives people structure, and that is even more important now than ever since a lot of the structure of a typical workday has quickly become a thing of the past.

At the end of the day, the nature of your job as CEO or manager has drastically changed, but its overall mission is still the same – to empower your employees to do the best job they are capable of doing. And that means giving them all the tools, technology and constant touch points to ensure they can flourish while contributing to the company’s vision and its bottom line.

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