Last year brought drastic changes to the way people work — and we don’t just mean because it’s (kind of) socially acceptable to wear your pyjamas to work now. Countless companies had to embrace the shift to remote work, and yours is probably one of them.
The increased reliance on video calling isn’t just from all the quizzes people are doing out of boredom, it’s also from businesses trying to maintain communication between teams and boost morale. However, the reality is that employees are feeling more isolated, miscommunication is more likely to occur, and productivity can drop due to distractions from noise, telephone calls, family, etc. The changing role of management is all about having conversations that solve these issues and create a flexible workplace — which ultimately can ensure employees are motivated and productive.
In the post-COVID world, you need to reconfigure how your team communicates, as well as provide support and learning resources your remote staff might need. In this article, we’re going to show you five tips to do this so you can create a more flexible workplace in 2021 and beyond.
#1 – Regular one-to-one communication
Communication has always been important for any job. Being able to pop your head into your colleague’s office was quick and easy, but unfortunately, it’s no longer the norm — you have to get in touch with employees remotely, whether that’s over email, Slack or Microsoft Teams. And even when you do manage to schedule a Zoom call, too often there’s an unwanted guest in the form of a roommate, child or partner in the background.
People working remotely are most likely feeling more isolated from their colleagues and managers, so it’s even more crucial now that your employees feel they are heard and supported. You need to go above and beyond to carve out distraction-free time to ensure communication is seamless with all employees.
According to an SHRM/Globoforce survey, 89% of HR leaders agreed that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins have a positive impact on their organisations. Make sure to schedule regular one-to-one conversations where you catch up with staff members. You can review their performance, listen to their suggestions, answer their questions, and ask your own while keeping the discussion focused. That way, you can address issues promptly and boost morale.
#2 – Development conversations
So climbing the career ladder may not be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but in a time when job losses are frequent, it will help employees to know that the pandemic hasn’t managed to put everything on pause (even though it may feel like it).
Go beyond the regular check-ins and start discussing the development of your employees. Employees will feel a lot more valued and motivated if they know that there is a career path within your company that they can continue to strive for.
Employees perform better and stay longer in a company when there are development opportunities they can pursue. Be sure to communicate that to them.
#3 – Feedback conversations
Team members who work from home interact less with their colleagues and managers. As a result, they may not get enough feedback about their performance, which can be unnerving. After all, humans crave praise and need it to thrive. So your job here is to put that anxiety to rest by having regular and open conversations where you provide constructive feedback to your protégés. And don’t do it over the phone! While it’s not quite the same as an in-person meeting, a video call is the next best thing.
Discuss both what they’re doing well and what they need to improve upon. Sure, this may require a change of culture in your company, but the rewards are going to be worth it — and then some. Workers who receive frequent feedback improve their skills and strive to keep performing better.
#4 – Difficult conversations
Not everyone will always see eye to eye. You’d think interpersonal conflicts would decrease to a minimum after the shift to remote work, but they can — and will — still happen. At least with WFH policies, there’s no chance of any in-person office squabbles over who finished the milk without replacing it.
The difficult conversations that may occur remotely will look pretty different. For example, an employee might feel stressed and resentful due to working longer hours and having less time for family or personal life. Or a team member is late to a Zoom call and misses critical information, so he ends up making a mistake that leaves another colleague infuriated.
Whatever the issue, you must identify and tackle it before it escalates. Unresolved conflicts will cost your business a lot of money, take up much of your time, and affect everyone in the team. The key to avoiding this is to reach out to employees regularly to ask if there are issues and clear out misunderstandings. Also, foster team bonding with group video discussions and activities. And when a conflict arises, listen to both sides and try to find a common ground for a solution.
#5 – Support resources
As we’ve mentioned, the lack of face-to-face support from peers and leaders is a very difficult part of remote working. So one aspect of the changing role of management is to fill that void by providing access to flexible, ‘point of need’ support resources that managers and employees can use. These may include learning and development resources in the form of engaging videos that address a variety of topics, from hard skills like how to use new tools and digital training, to soft skills that encourage cooperation and creativity within the team.
Another great strategy is implementing ‘micro-learning’ — a learning strategy that delivers bite-sized learning material of various formats, like videos and quizzes. Workers will then be able to fill skill gaps and fix small issues on their own.
Create a flexible workplace
Embracing the changing role of management means having frequent and meaningful conversations that bolster motivation and productivity. You need to be proactive by having the right conversations at the right time and providing the right resources to create a flexible workplace where employees feel supported and happy.
At Video Arts, we understand the challenges of remote work and create digital resources that L&D managers and HR professionals can use to support employees while working remotely. For more tips on how to have more effective management conversations with remote staff, check out our webinar dedicated to this subject. It’s free to watch on-demand now.