Slowly across Canberra offices are starting to empty as more and more staff are working from home. Many government team leaders have had experience in managing staff working in different offices or working remotely. Very few will be used to having their whole team out of the office, for weeks or months on end.
As a team leader, your role is about to become even more important. When you see your team every day, you can:
- see how they are feeling
- check on the progress of work by walking over to their desks
- you can make sure they take a lunch break, or
- head home at a reasonable hour.
When you can’t see them, it can make it hard to have that connection and its harder to lead.
You need to be the one that keeps your team together. You need to ensure you can maintain your culture and keep the connection between your people. Your leadership skill are about to be put to the test.
“We feel most alive when we are connected with others.”– Brene Brown
Here are a few simple things you can do:
More than ever, your staff need to see you. I know this seems counterintuitive at the moment, but you need to be visible, even if it’s virtually visible. Do not underestimate how effective a video call can be to touch base with your staff. You need to make a conscious effort to contact your team members every day! Call, email, video chat – do whatever it takes.
Set clear expectations
Don’t assume that everyone works from home in the same way or that your staff know what you expect them to do. Be clear about what do you want to see and when? How do you want to be communicated with? What do you expect your staff to be working on while at home?
Keep your team connected
One of your main roles over the next few weeks (or months) is to keep your team connected to each other. Use your approved company/department software where possible to have a group chat but if you don’t have any these are unprecedented times, break the rules! Obviously, don’t share confidential information on unsecure platforms – just use it to maintain your connection. Try one of these ideas:
- Everyone has a mobile phone. Set up a WhatsApp group or have a team meeting via Facetime (Did you know you can Facetime 32 people at once? Find out more on the Apple website).
- Do an email quiz and share the answers in an afternoon Zoom call? Send out a reading and then ask everyone to discuss it the following morning.
- Establish a weekly engagement schedule:
It’s not just about you
While you need to establish a new way of working, it’s not all about you doing the hard work. Get your team involved as well.
- Encourage your team to call each other. We are in such a habit of emailing each other, but it is going to be really important over the coming months to pick up the phone and have some human interaction.
- Ask one of them to “chair” the daily video chat.
- Get someone else to write the quiz. You don’t have to do this on your own.
More than ever, you need consistent processes and ways of working. If you haven’t had time in your busy world to write up your teams processes now is a great time. The first one on the list is how your team will share updates and progress notes. You need to create a consistent way for staff to share handover notes. You will need to have a way to ensure continuity of your services and deliverables in case someone is not able to work the next day.
Good luck leaders. This is going to be a tough few weeks. You are going to get frustrated, bored, wrestles but remember you are the team leader – it’s your time to lead.
If you have any other great ideas, please share below!