You don’t need us to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up more than a couple of obstacles when it comes to the workplace.
The UK government announced the latest lockdown on 4 January 2021, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinting at the time that the middle of February would be the earliest he would consider lifting some of the restrictions. On 22 February, the Prime Minister is slated to release the country’s roadmap out of lockdown, providing loose dates for when sectors of the economy can expect to be reopened.
This uncertainty is wreaking havoc with employers, with many already struggling to manage their team during the COVID-19 crisis. Some will have taken heed from the first lockdown, but many employers are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their teams effectively.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that around 40% of managers are finding it hard to manage their teams remotely, but there are ways you can make it work. Keep reading to find out more.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the majority of remote management issues stem from a level of distrust that managers have in their employees’ ability to get their work done. In fact, 38% of managers reported believing their employees performed worse at home, be it because of the temptation of TV or housework, or because of the lack of direct supervision. Furthermore, 29% of managers say they don’t believe their employees have the knowledge to work from home, and a further 27% said they doubted whether their team had any essential skills at all.
It’s clear that a large portion of managers don’t trust their teams to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic but going into it with such a negative mindset is detrimental. More than 30% of employees say they can sense when their managers don’t trust them, and this can lead to deep cracks in employer-employee relationships.
The first step to managing a team during COVID-19 is to trust that they know what they’re doing and know how to get the job done. Failure to do so will cause fractures within your team and only make your job harder, which is the last thing you need considering all the other things you need to juggle as a manager.
With schools closed, mass testing common place and the vaccine rollout underway, it’s likely that your team will have additional requirements they need to tend to during the pandemic that they wouldn’t normally. As a manager, one way you can effectively manage your team is by ensuring you offer them flexibility. If a member of your team needs time off to get a test or receive a vaccine, don’t make them feel bad about it. If another member is trying to juggle homeschooling and working full-time, have a chat with them and see if you can adjust their hours so they can do everything they need to do – even if they start work later or switch a day off at the weekend for a day off during the week if this is possible.
The needs of your team will be hugely different during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to at any other time, so offering a flexible approach to working is essential to keeping your team’s morale up and stopping their productivity from dipping.
As a manager, you’ve likely got several members who all have different needs and ways of doing things. The best thing you can do during the COVID-19 lockdown is to implement a communication strategy that works for everyone. Part of this will come down to trusting your employees and not calling them every hour for a progress update, and some of it will come from taking the lead and knowing what will work best for your team and the business as whole. Without sitting next to each other in the office, you might find your team are reluctant to speak to one another, but you need to encourage them to do just that.
Lead by example. If you have a quick question for one of them, give them a call to lament that it’s quicker than emailing and provides a much more effective way of minimising the risk of crossed wires. You team will be looking to you for things like this, so make sure you set a good example and they will naturally follow.
The hallmark of any good manager is to be compassionate and to live up to the duty of care they have for their team, and at no time is this more apparent than during COVID-19. Making an extra effort to ask how each person on your team is, listening to their worries, reassuring them where you can and being someone they can turn to with their concerns will reaffirm to them that you’re there for them during this difficult time. If a member of your team feels like you care about them, they’re more likely to do a good job and your business will benefit as a result. It might not seem like it because the pandemic has forced us all to stay 2m apart, but now more than ever is a time for your team to grow closer. The closer your team is, the better it works, and the better it works, the easier it is to manage in the long-term, not to mention the more productive it is.
Managing a team of people is hard at the best of times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has more than amplified the struggles faced by those in leadership roles. If you’re struggling, try implementing more trust, offering better working flexibility, opening new lines of communication, and imparting more personal compassion to see if it helps. Odds are, it will, and your work life will be all the better for it.
If you’re finding that you’re still struggling, it could be that you have too much on your plate. Talk to us today to find out how we can help ease your workload during the most difficult of times so you can be more present with your team.