The article shared below, “NM Crisis Leadership Tip for the Day: Back Off,” by Albuquerque Business First publisher Candace Beeke, appeared in the publication’s April 3, 2020 issue.
After dipping their collective toes in the water for years, many businesses recently dove headfirst into remote work.
And that sudden change has created challenges for many, including how to lead a remote team. That’s keeping Cristin Heyns-Bousliman, practice leader of human resources consulting at REDW, very busy at her own home office.
“It’s hard to not devolve into micromanagement,” noted Heyns-Bousliman, a Woman of Influence and 40 Under Forty honoree who recently merged her HR firm, Human Resources Experience, into REDW. REDW had $18.7 million in New Mexico revenue in 2018, according to our Top 100 Private Companies List.
With remote work, managers can feel out of touch, causing them to virtually hover over employees, which, in turn, makes employees feel untrusted.Â “Both of those things aren’t good for mental health,” she noted.
Leaders need to accept work will be done differently and at a different pace during this unique and stressful situation.Â “It’s human nature that productivity is going to go down in this environment,” Heyns-Bousliman said.
Reassure your employees you understand that. Encourage them to take breaks during the day and get outside.Â “If you miss a Skype or an email or don’t respond within 30 seconds, no one’s going to think you’re slacking,” she said.
Heyns-Bousliman shared her own best practices for remote work:
- Encourage team members to create a dedicated work space with plenty of natural light and a comfortable chair with a table/desk that is at the appropriate height (no one needs neck and back pain in addition to cabin fever).
- Have a simple daily check-in/check-out procedure so team members do not feel micromanaged and managers donâ€™t feel the need to micromanage (we use a quick Skype message â€“ â€œGood morningâ€ and â€œLogging off for the dayâ€).
- At least once per week, have a video chat to check in with team members and go over projects/answer questions.
- Acknowledge the elephant in the room: Tell team members they are trusted and not expected to be glued to their computer every second. Set reasonable expectations regarding response times. I like to set the expectation based upon the method of communication: email = not urgent, read and respond at your convenience, usually within 24 hours; Skype message or text = some urgency, respond within an hour or as soon as you are available; cell phone call = urgent, answer if you can or return the call ASAP.
- Donâ€™t skimp on technology that improves productivity. Buy the hardware and software licenses your employees need to get the work done with as few technology roadblocks as possible. Invest in better communication (text message alert systems, call forwarding, voicemail transcription to email, etc.). Everything feels more difficult right now. Your team members donâ€™t need another challenge when it comes to technology.
- Encourage team members to maintain their normal routine despite being at home â€“ the work day should be the same and although the first couple of weeks in yoga pants were fun, we really are more productive and feel more professional when we dress the part.