Most of us woke up Monday morning to a very different reality from what we were expecting last month – or even last week. Children home from school or university, entire companies working from home, families self-quarantining – and yet somehow, the world is still turning and we’re expected to do our work as usual.
If you are a leader (of a team, yes – but also of a group or even of a household) here are five things you can do right now to ensure that your team stays productive and engaged during this difficult time.
- Build your team culture virtually.
In The ADP Research Institute’s groundbreaking Global Study of Engagement, we found that the most engaged workers aren’t necessarily the ones coming to the office every week – they’re actually working remotely 80% of the time. Which suggests that your team isn’t a place that you go physically, it’s a feeling you have in your head and your heart. It is entirely possible to keep your team feeling connected and engaged during this time, in fact they may even be more engaged because of the flexibility they now have.
- Build up your team’s confidence in what they can do.
In your virtual team meetings and connects, don’t use that time to play therapist and connect with everyone’s feelings – that’s not the outcome you’re trying to achieve during these virtual events. Instead, you’re trying to up the level of confidence on your team.
Don’t fake it – you don’t know what’s around the next corner any more than your team does. But you can help people know what they can control in their lives. Whether it’s how frequently they wash their hands or how much work they can get done on a particular project, if you help people understand what they can control then their confidence will rise.
- Keep doing weekly check-ins with each member of your team.
Now more than ever, people still need to feel a connection with each other. The best way to restore that connection with each member of your team is by doing a weekly check-in where you ask “What are you working on, and how can I help?” Not only will you be keeping each employee focused, but you’ll be giving them that personal attention that they crave. Plus, as a bonus, research shows that the medium of this conversation doesn’t matter, only the frequency does – so rest assured that your check-in over the phone or video-conference is as effective as one would be in person.
- Take your own energy seriously, and seek out the people who lift you up.
Identify the people who lift you up, who make you feel better, and reach out to them every week – because your energy and emotional health is just as important as your employees’. Figure out who those people are and deliberately reach out to them.
- Use this experience to clarify your values.
When you study the practices of great leaders, you learn that they deliberately make sense of experience to clarify their values. If you can find any silver lining in this experience, it’s that it’s an excellent time to learn what you value about work and family. If you have a deep understanding of what you stand for, it will mean more predictability and confidence within your team.
Working remotely doesn’t mean that your employees will be less productive or less engaged, especially if you use this as an opportunity to connect with them in meaningful and constructive ways. So stay safe, stay healthy, and if you can – hug a dog today. It certainly makes me feel better.