Transitioning from an onsite workforce to a remote environment has taken its toll on many companies over the last couple of years. Figuring out how to continue to keep projects moving forward and productivity high as employees work from home has been quite the challenge. This, coupled with ensuring that employees remain engaged and navigating resistance to return to the office, managers have had an even tougher job in recent years.
According to SHRM, “…a Harvard survey found that 40% of leaders were unprepared to manage remote employees, and 41% struggled to keep their remote team members engaged. Similarly, only 40% of employees working from home reported feeling supported by their superiors.”
So, how do managers get equipped to lead remote teams and, more importantly, make sure those teams are thriving? It starts with intentional development.
Just as companies are intentional about managing budgets, product development, or sales, a wise investment for the longevity and health of an organization lies in management development. Just because someone carries the title “manager” doesn’t mean they’re necessarily prepared for that role.
To ensure that a remote workforce is managed well, first start with equipping your frontline managers. This training can include immersion in company culture, increase in knowledge base, and soft skills training, such as listening, empathy, influence, and critical thinking.
Set your managers up for success. Schedule regular trainings and touch bases with them to discover where gaps are in their skills and abilities. Listen to their pain points. Then create an action plan to help them grow in their role. Invest in your managers in the same way you invest in the rest of your workforce. Managers can, in fact, make or break teams.
Speaking of teams, let’s talk about what remote employees are looking for from their managers. Now that we’ve got a few remote-work years under our belts, companies have had the opportunity to learn what works and opportunities for growth in managing off-site teams.
One obvious thing that has emerged with the advent of remote work is the inability to “see” what our employees are doing. This has presented a challenge to managers and company owners who have had a need to control their environments. There is an often accompanied phrase with this type of leadership style: micro-management.
Remote work has taken away the ability, and dare we say security, of managers to constantly monitor their workforce. Rather than gauging productivity by visually observing the amount of hours an employee works, remote managers are now faced with new ways to monitor team success. Managers who build thriving teams are now leveraging communication and project management tools for measuring their teams’ output. These platforms give managers visibility to the work employees are doing, both on both a micro and macro level, creating a new paradigm for how to “see” productivity.
A thoughtful study in remote work, conducted by Raghu Krishnamoorthy, has revealed what employees long for from their managers. As reported by SHRM, Krishnamoorthy says of employees, “They wanted their managers to be present, hands-on, and operationally vigilant without being intrusive. In other words, employees don’t want their managers to micromanage them; they want their managers to micro-understand their work.”
This presents a huge paradigm shift for some management styles. But, it will pay off in terms of employee engagement and team productivity once adjustments are made.
Here are some key components of of micro-understanding your employees and tools to help manage remote employees well:
We work with companies to equip executives, managers, and supervisors with the tools they need to be successful in navigating the complex world of work. Contact Clarity to learn more about how we partner with organizations to create and sustain great workplaces.
Written by: Marla Monk
January 19, 2023
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