Kristi Allen

Managing in a crisis is hard. We’re not only stewards of work, we’re enablers of positive mental health habits that bring balance to our employees. 

Knowing this, the strategies that worked for in-person management or traditional remote employee management will not be enough when managing through the multiple crises.  It will require flexibility in meetings, schedules, and even bring a double-take to assess priorities.

Visibility matters…even more

Gone are the days when we could walk through the cube farm with our coffee each morning and check-in, talk about the previous night’s events, and quickly hit the list of important items for the day. 

While the opportunity for being visible in the virtual environment is not as clear as being physically seen, the importance of being visible has not changed. Your team wants to hear from you, even if it’s to reiterate where the team is headed or how you’re adapting to the challenges of working remotely.

Renew channels of communication

A top challenge being reported is that employees want connection with their manager, but not at the cost that a meeting from their manager feels like another obligation. Before scheduling a meeting think about if it really needs to be a meeting. Can you add the topic to each staff 1:1 that is already on the calendar? Can you use email or post it to a real-time collaboration tool i.e. Microsoft Teams or Slack? 

Lead by example by adding a purpose or objective to each meeting that is scheduled and follow through on actually doing what was intended in the meeting. Allow your employee to feel there is added value to the time you’re using versus the time they would be bringing balance to their homes through productivity. 

Allow space for the reality of today

Bring connection in a way that allows space for the team to talk about what is happening around them. For some, having work calls is their only interaction with people outside their home for the day and allowing time for real-world discussion also fosters an inclusive culture.

One way I promote this is by having open office hours each week — an optional time for anyone on the team to show-up and have casual chats. Anything goes, no agendas are allowed. Each week there’s a different topic or multiple topics, and it’s naturally curated by those on the call.  

Turn off your video from time-to-time

Key feedback given in the social survey was about video usage and too much of it. Set the tone by determining when a video needs to be turned on and when a phone call will work just the same. 

Take a cue from the room – if you’re the only one with your video on from the beginning of the meeting until 10 minutes in, take a break, turn it off. When you do hope your team shows-up on video, make a note about it in the meeting notice.  

Lasting Thoughts

Honing the way you work is the best thing you can do for yourself and your career, both as an employee and a people manager. Adapting to changing environments requires flexibility — stop things that aren’t working, continue things that are, and try new things, as you may be surprised at the outcome. These 4 strategies for managers to enable employees to find balance is good start to a great experience for you and your team.

Questions? Any advice or experiences to add? Share below in the comments — I look forward to reading them and responding! 

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