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I wonder how many of us will be sitting at our desks at home this morning, with a range of feelings looking at the day ahead? Coronavirus has changed our working practices overnight.

Your emotions may be mixed. You may be looking with dismay at the number of virtual calls booked in your diary. Or, although you have plenty of things to do, you may have a challenge in clarifying where your energy lies.

Maybe this is the situation for your team members too. Physically isolated from their team, one possibility is that they could be enjoying more freedom and less micro management than before as they turbo charge through their day. Alternatively they may, without making a fuss, be struggling and need a little more support from you than usual.

In your leadership capacity, what can you do?

In my recent webinar on “Managing Your Remote Team”, I talked about three main things:

1. Emotional Connection

You may have noticed that your team needs a wider and richer focus than practicalities and task. There is plenty of good practice going on in organisations – from the 9.45am team chat – a fifteen minute break where everyone is invited to have a cup of tea together and talk about all things non work, or the 4.30pm Friday afternoon Wine Time (no “h”!), where you can all have a social close to the week.

Going up a notch, you can also build on individual and group check using the Feelings vocabulary, to draw out a more nuanced answer to how people are feeling. This will take you and the team beyond happy, sad or angry (apparently most people only know about these three feelings!).  

You can develop a more nuanced answer further with some coaching style questions:  

  • How is that impacting you?
  • What is most difficult about that for you?
  • Is there a tiny step you/I/we could take to help you with that?

This approach can take the conversation forward, help meet your team members’ needs and foster feelings of connection.

2. Be Clear About Outcomes

Even face to face it way too easy to assume we mean the same thing when we talk about the deliverables or outcomes from our work.

  • Asked to deliver something in a fortnight? My American colleague thought he could, but had to check what one was (and this example is before the game Fortnite existed!)
  • You need to fill in the Excel spreadsheet with the client details? Do we mean all the columns, only when we are completely confident in answers or is partial info OK? One person’s definition (and expectation) may not be the same as the others.
  • Clear up after dinner. Do we mean, just put the plates in the dishwasher, or wash the pans, wipe down the table and clean the hob too? (Not my house, obviously!!)

Dr Brene Brown’s work, where she suggests that you “paint the outcome”, in other words describe a picture of it, can really help here. This can be as the requestor of the work, or as the person recapping back to confirm their understanding of what they have been asked to do.

If it’s a new discipline for you, it can feel clunky at first, but can make things so much easier too!

3. Look After Yourself

Let’s be honest here, no-one really likes a worn out manager or team leader, do they. It’s not particularly inspiring and can make it difficult for your team members to challenge you or offer you good ideas for solving a problem. In addition to the usual good practices of diet, hydration, exercise, sleep, friendships and so on, I ask you to connect or reconnect with your strengths.

No time or budget? You and your team can access the free on-line VIA strengths tool here. The thing about strengths is that you feel better for using them. Each time I employ my creativity in writing to you, focussing on what really matters, I feel great. My strengths are hidden within these activities.

What are the things that you do, need to do, can do, which energise you too?

I hope this blog has given you a flavour of the 25 minute “Managing Your Remote Team” webinar I presented as part of the Shine Workplace Wellbeing on-line festival.

If this is an attractive topic for your team, organisation or network – or if you can introduce me to someone for whom it would be useful – let me know.

It would be a pleasure to employ my communication strengths to support you at this difficult time.

Gill How is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer who loves to enable professionals to stretch and grow. Please contact her for an exploratory conversation if you think she can help you succeed with your goals.

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Photo credit: Stephane Rocher

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

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