Navigating The New Normal - What Can Good Bosses Do?
Posted on 6th Apr, 2020
Rushing in 20 seconds before overtime gets marked, dreaming of swanky offices while sitting in shared cubicles, quickly catching up on gossip around the water-cooler, having impromptu cake-cutting sessions at the cafe, hearing excuses for missed deadlines, the sense of pride in a job well done, making friends with the new-hire, the comfort of casual attire on a Friday, handling employees whom you can see, call in for a face-to-face meeting, and who's time can be managed at work… has anyone else experienced nostalgia yet?
"Covid-19" the bug littler the vision can see, yet more powerful than we can fathom - seems to be creating for us, a new normal!
With humans by nature being largely resistant to change, 13 days into the 21-day lockdown imposed in India, so many of us - employees and employers alike - are still reeling from the unexpected push into the world of telecommuting and working from home, which has shaken the foundation of the traditional routine - travel to work, work at work, leave work behind and travel home!
As employers, managing and running businesses - especially small and medium size businesses for whom day-to-day business is essential to survival - can be particularly difficult, in these times.
Here are some quick tips which we believe in:
- QUANTIFY KPIs - You need to be more focused on your deliverables and performance metrics, in managing teams remotely. Quantified KPIs helps team members also clearly track what's expected of them, and how much farther they need to go
- TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR BEST FRIEND - Files have always been in hard-copy? Approvals always needed signatures? Presentations were always accompanied by a sheaf of notes? Documents always went through multiple pen-marked drafts during editing? Uh-huh, get with the times! Simple, inexpensive options including G-Suite for Business, Skype for Business, Zoom, Team-viewer, Microsoft Slack, Google Hangouts, can make your life easier when working through the lockdown.
- COMMUNICATE OFTEN AND WELL - The cohesive culture and open-door policy you established at work isn't as effective anymore? Catching up over coffee isn't happening? Don't fret. Technology makes it possible.
- Create an Online Open-Door Policy - IM's, pings, messages are all a good way to keep in touch, especially if a prompt response is received!
- Be Accessible - As boss/manager, be available to your time via calls throughout work hours
- Acknowledge the Importance of Face Time - Set up team meetings via Skype or Zoom at regular intervals, where everyone connects with the team at large
- DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! - Face-to-face meetings, typically ought to have written follow-ups to record what was discussed, and minimize confusion. The importance of this practice increases significantly when working remotely.
- DO NOT MICROMANAGE - Remote working necessarily means you have to trust your people, let them run and get their work done, as keeping track of their every keystroke, or every minute logged is a futile task. Instead, focus on the important metrics - collaboration, revenue, productivity etc. As long as employees are completing tasks on time, doing quality work, and achieving targets, don't nit-pick about how they got there.
- EMPATHIZE WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES - Having no household help, and yet having to juggle one or more amongst a squalling baby, an energized toddler, a grumpy teen, a demanding spouse, or, elderly parents/in-laws, while simultaneously not dropping the ball on work responsibilities IS exhausting. Acknowledge the efforts being put in by everyone - employees and you - to handle their work well, and celebrate successes. If possible, initiate brief sessions with the team, where everyone could share ideas on how to manage the situation.
- TRUST THE TEAM - Amidst the chaos, it is but natural that working styles or even the number of hours dedicated to work, fluctuate. While trust in a remote team is earned by the individuals handling their deliverables well, it is important that one must start from a position of positivity and trust - that deliverables will be well handled. Remember, it is inevitable that there will be distractions. There must be trust on the staff to work through the distractions and deliver.