We often hear about the challenges of ‘Working From Home’ or ‘Remote Working’ where an employee feels distanced from the team or leader due to a geographical gap. This usually describes sub-contracted employees or workers at global locations, where distance is an everyday issue.
But right now it is something different. We have never been more challenged or completely fed up with our situation, with millions of people working from home for the first time without choice or previous experience. For many, work is challenged due to spouses and children being at home all day too. For others, work is affected by them being on their own in a lonely situation all 24-hours of the day.
So Your Leadership Is Needed More Than Ever
You need to motivate and engage your people – but that does not mean holding yet another ‘fun’ online meeting with games, polls and chats. Of course, good online meetings are necessary, but real engagement is essential throughout the whole working week. Your real challenge is to improve your ‘Leadership From Home’ without being worn out yourself.
6 tips to improve your Leadership From Home:
1. People can be motivated but not engaged. Your people can be doing a good job from home, be motivated and productive. Yet, they can be burning out and lacking energy to engage in true development as they usually do. Your leadership should help them refocus on their own personal value-driven reasons for doing a good job – and not on external drivers such as reward, habit and avoidance of negative consquences.
2. Give more individual feedback. Increase your feedback to and from each individual – that means better, more often and predictable. You can plan, structure and engage your feedback better if you understand their individual drivers. Ask yourself: Is this person mostly driven by the need to be competent, autonmous or related to others etc.?
3. Recognise the difficulties of working from home. Just as importantly, you must engage your people through demonstrating an understanding for, and acting upon, the difficulties of working from home. Ask them which practical and mental difficulties they are individually experiencing. This could include anything from poor workspace conditions, stress from children’s interuptions, missing social interaction with colleagues, worry about health and relations, lack of sleep, loneliness etc. Listen and take action where you can within your given role and responsibilities.
4. Improve the relevance of team communication. Focus your leadership on improving methods for ongoing team communication, meetings and platforms for filing information. Take control and engage the team by making changes to reduce the number of emails, time-wasting meetings and outdated filing actions. Develop this purposefully with your team rather than the changes occuring unconsciously. You don’t want new methods to start up by pure coincidence, as that will disengage the team.
5. Be a first-mover – lead a culture of personal trust. When people are seriously fed up, the need for personal trust and closeness among them rises. Lead the way by demonstrating more personal leadership such as being more authentic yourself, showing personal interest in them, reducing your leadership distance and being more open for their input. If you find the right balance, and avoid being too personal, this focus on wellbeing will engage your people through difficult periods.
6. Focus on what is doable. Finally, you can best support the progression of your people if you help them concentrate specifically on what they can control and act on. That means being realistic about what is out of their hands and what is doable. Be realistic about what they can achieve – how much or how little in the circumstances – and speak openly about positive and negative tasks and sides of the job in the current situation.
We hope this helped a little. In our experience, getting together online in your leadership teams and setting time aside to discuss some potential actions and improvements is a really good way to start. Use a facilitator to help you put some thought and structure into that dialogue to gain the greatest benefits.