One major change in the workplace as a result of COVID-19 has been the rapid shift to remote work. This has created a bit of a “sink or swim” situation in which employers and employees alike had to figure out how to ensure the remote workforce remained productive and efficient while reducing virus transmission risks.
There are a lot of things to consider when transitioning to remote work. But once the tools are in place, don’t forget that your management staff needs support in this situation, too. Managing a remote team takes a nuanced set of skills; the same old managerial techniques don’t all translate to a remote working environment.
Here are some critical skills and actions needed when managing a remote team:
- Self-discipline and motivation. While this one obviously goes for both employees and managers, it’s especially important that the management team model ways to stay disciplined and on task. In an ideal world, leaders are able to provide training and input on the types of behaviors that help people stay focused when outside the workplace.
- The ability and willingness to communicate frequently. Great communication skills have never been more important. With a dispersed team, it’s easy to forget to tell someone about a change or new development. New communication techniques can ensure that everyone stays in the loop on projects and that no one feels left out.
- Willingness to learn new processes and ways of doing business. Many of us had never heard of Zoom or other videoconferencing software before the pandemic began. Now it (or other tools like it) is the primary method for holding meetings in thousands of organizations around the globe. Effective managers in this environment need to be able to quickly learn and embrace new processes and sometimes new software and other tools to stay productive.
- The ability to motivate and encourage employees from afar. This may take some outside-the-box thinking. Leaders need to come up with new ways to ensure their teams stay engaged and that they’re getting the support and recognition to continue to perform the best they can in the circumstances. This may include the HR team supporting leadership by providing ideas to help keep employees motivated.
Employers should keep these needs in mind when looking to hire or promote new managers while their teams are dispersed. They can also help their leadership team by providing training and assistance in any area they may need the help.
For those of you with teams that now work remotely, what other skills have you found to be critical for the leadership teams in your organization?