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Managers: Don’t Let Your Team Be Out of Sight AND Out of Mind

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Managers: Don’t Let Your Team Be Out of Sight AND Out of Mind

By Ken Glickman

      Glickman Associates, LLC

Over the past several years organizations have increasingly embraced the idea of having employees work remotely. Technology has been the magic gateway that has made this work option quite common.

Employees now take it for granted. Even during screening interviews, candidates ask me if they will be required to work at the company on site. What used to be a crazy question, now is a very appropriate and everyday query.

But things are far different today.

During this “work from home” era the coronavirus quarantine threw us into, we are not seeing our team members EVER. Before, when folks worked remotely, they would at least come into the office occasionally, for a big meeting, a holiday party, a client presentation, or a training. In addition, they may saunter in to join other team members to have coffees, lunches or a beer to catch up. Now, none of that is possible.

All of this distancing (work and social, both) is putting leaders in a new and challenging place. The lack of face to face contact has made the work environment a much more fragile place. We must treat it with utmost care and devise different management methods to keep things moving forward. While the term “work engagement” is popular in HR circles, it takes on a new meeting when we never see our employees at all.

The difficulties facing our teams today are more than just struggling with the best way to use Zoom or finding the self-discipline to a work a full day even though we may be attired in jammies.

It’s difficult maintaining a team environment when we don’t see each other.  How do we connect with our colleagues and our organization when we are working at home?

The supervisory challenges are many when we don’t physically interact with our teams on a daily basis. The most important factor to remember is that just because we can’t see our high-performing teams, that doesn’t mean we should abandon our management responsibilities. During this strange time, out of sight CANNOT mean out of mind.

Managers must use their creative juices to find new ways of engaging and leading their employees even if they only see them on a little square on a computer screen.

Lack of communication from the boss is an ongoing complaint I hear from employees, but now the issue looms larger than ever. As leaders, we should reach out to each and every employee on a regular basis.  We must be aware of what they’re working on, how they’re coping and what they need from us to help them stay on track.

When our team was located just steps away, we could always catch a few minutes, or observe them working at their workspace. Now, to stay in touch, we have to be in touch – purposely.

And group video meetings don’t do the trick.  We have to extend that limited form of communication to work with our staff on an individual basis.

It will help if we can fit in a short phone status report chat every day for a few minutes to see what is happening for each team member. A short ten-minute call can do wonders. Or we can have a video meeting with one team member at a time, rather than the impersonal quality of a group call.

Remember, some people can be very motived when working in their basement or extra bedroom, but others find the change of workspace to be stressful and full of anxiety. Make sure you know where your team members are on the spectrum.

This is the time where we as leaders should OVER communicate. If you were more of a hands-off manager, now is when you should venture beyond your comfort zone and reach out and closely monitor every employee under your wing.

Who knows, maybe your team will work better together when this craziness is over because of the extra communication. And maybe you’ll become a better leader as an extra bonus.




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