Working from home is not difficult, and there are many tips flying around social media out there for employees, but we thought it might be useful for managers to just check that you have a good structure in place to ensure that a) your team feel included and motivated and b) as a manager you have put in place enough structure for you to feel in control.
The 7 critical success factors are the same that managers of effective remote teams have used and that we have been training for years so nothing trendy, just known to work.
1. Clear direction and leadership
Make sure everyone knows the goals and priorities for coming months; have individual conversations to ask team members to define their own goals. Use published visual milestones. Make sure they have the right resources. You could even create a team charter for the duration by asking the team what they think should be included e.g. no judging of personal decisions (except maybe stock piling toilet rolls!)
2. Set up a communication plan
Draw up a chart with the subjects, the method (whole team Skype/one to one telephone call/email or word document report) , the timings (weekly/fortnightly/end of the month etc) and publish. Take ideas from the team first. People may be used to the casual comms in an office environment and initially not see the need for a more formal plan but will ultimately welcome a bit of structure.
Like all plans this can change. Pilot it for a couple of weeks and adapt. Just talking about how to communicate will make people aware.
3. Set up a use of technology plan
This is the same approach as above. Which media will you use to communicate on which type of issue?
4. Outline the decision making process
Who can make which decisions? Everyone needs to know their own level of initiative that you are expecting. What has to be agreed by the whole team? Which decisions can individuals make and how should they then communicate the decisions. When must you be consulted?
This could be the time when you can really start to empower people.
5. Outline the conflict resolution strategy
It pays to think in advance about what types of conflicts might occur, possible solutions and your strategy.
6. Communicate effectively
Be simple, be vivid, be natural, be concise.
7. Build constructive relationships
Encourage social interactions and personal communications. Watch out for cliques and keep your eye on the independent workers. The introverts will be enthusiastic about homeworking but may suffer and the extroverts will soon hate being alone. Organise a tea and biscuits meeting. Send them fruit or cake. There is a great website at www.sophiesafternoonteas.com where you can order traybakes to be delivered; eat some now and freeze the rest.
High performance leadership is the key to success. Managing remote teams is just the same as normal office based teams, you just have to be more disciplined and planned about the structures you put in place, and stick to them.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a slide deck to send out to managers or organise a Zoom masterclass. We are happy to help.
According to the ILM's latest research (New Decade, New Directions) one of the top 3 goals for managers in 2020 is to get better at leading and managing.
We are certainly doing our best here at elconsulting to support any organisation or manager who wants to get better or more confident at leading. The last 6 months have been busy:
Coaching directors and key employees in some very different organisations, but all with a personal goal in mind. Just one quote:
"I just wanted to thank you again for sharing your wisdom, providing support and advice earlier this year.
Reflecting is a really powerful tool, which has not only allowed me to learn more about myself (I’m now using my perceptive skills more!), but also more broadly too, and as a result ....I have implemented 4 actions."
Leadership Development programmes for Bitwala (in Berlin), Photocentric, Cambridge Mechatronics, and Webtec. Each programme was tailored to the stage of business growth and therefore the demands on managers and spread out over a period of months to ensure learning could be put into action.
Call Judith on 07766 753930 to discuss your business needs for coaching and training.
According to a recent Institute of Leadership and Management report "getting better at leading and managing" was one of the top 3 goals for managers in 2020. (New Decade, New Directions.)
Download this free resource (no email required!) to share with managers on how to develop a coaching style.
Remember that the manager should aim to do 20% of the talking and the employee 80%. We all prefer to be listened to and not lectured at. So it's most effective if you can use some JGQs (jolly good questions).
What do you like best/least about your job?
Not for a regular one to one but mid year or annually. Rather than asking "so whats gone well?" or "what are your strengths"? What we like best is generally what we are good at, and what we like least is often where we are weaker. The "best" question gets all the strengths on the table and an opportunity to give praise where its due. The "least" question then starts a discussion on areas for development that you could help with. e.g. "How could I help you with that?" "What could you do about it?" This would be a more constructive approach than just delivering negative feedback.
Is your job getting easier or more difficult?
This is for someone who is quite plainly struggling. It allows them to say what's on their mind and starts the discussion.
What do you see are the priorities of the job?
For someone who seems to have a different view on priorities to you. This is a good opener to potentially agree on a couple and you can suggest a couple more, or question one that is just not right. I would then park the priorities and move on to whats gone well before returning to them again later when you want to establish some new priorities, or correct a misunderstanding.
What do you find is the best way to get things done?
For someone who is rubbing people up the wrong way. This is the opener that will start to establish a better way of working with others?
When you do x how do you think that makes people feel?
We can be single minded in our approach, perhaps the way we have always behaved, and have never given though to the impact on others. This question starts that thinking and opens up a new avenue of actions.
Have a look at our video on how to coach to change behaviour at www.eltalking.com
Having made the effort to establish the behaviours that are right for your organisation do you just put them on a mouse mat or posters and leave it there? Will that make everyone behave the way you want them to? Not likely...So here are seven best practices to make them come alive and business as usual.
1. Build the foundations
Make sure the needs of stakeholders are understood and linked through the vision and values
2. Define a strong vision
The vision should be clear, memorable, motivating, ambitious, customer related and translated into measurable strategies. Everyone need to be clear on the direction of travel, so write the vision for the staff not for the website.
3. Define strong values
Values should support the vision, based on key factors for success and turned into measurable practices. To be honest 9 is too many - people never remember them all. 3 to 5? And to be relevant to the type of people you need as well as the vision. One of our clients has recruited, quite rightly, several employees straight from academia; very bright people with no experience of working to deadlines or in teams therefore values that articulate what's need right now for the business makes it clear for employees.
Consistent communication by actions, signals and words. Walk the talk. Lead by example. Include values in the state of the nation address and monthly meetings.
...in recruitment, training, performance discussions, rewards, promotion. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
Both the company brand and the employer brand express vision and values.
Implement rigorous measurement of the effectiveness of vision and values. Take care; you get what you measure and too much measuring drives people crazy. Focus.
We have a lot of experience in supporting companies in defining their vales and how to embed them. Give us a call. 07766 753930.
It seems that the future is even more uncertain, what with Brexit and the prospect of Artificial Intelligence and the impact that might have on our workforce. And that's without the "here and now" issues to deal with: should we be doing annual appraisals or are they old hat, what is it that millennials want, how are we going to find, and retain, the talent we need?
The pressure is on to retain good employees; we need to make sure managers are equipped to deal with changes in front of them as well as those looming ahead. Everyone knows that employees don't leave a company, they leave a "bad" manager but we believe there is no such thing, or at least just a tiny minority. In our experience in developing management capability much can be done to build confidence and practical action from sharing tactics to helping people stand back and view situations with a different lens.
Now is the time to make sure managers have 2020 vision, and preferably 2030 and beyond.; make sure they have the right skills to coach rather than direct, the emotional intelligence to get the best out of others, to recognise unconscious bias, and to be aware of what millennials want and make decisions about what can be offered. We need to make sure that they have the skills to use digital communication and learning effectively, wisely, without have to be SoMe addicts. (That's social media we're talking about).
Our Shaping Future Leaders programme takes the very best of the leadership principles that we know to be true, no fads, and then adds in contemporary issues like how to ditch unconscious bias, how to get up to date with easy ideas to harness technology and SoMe, and finally to get unfrozen ready for change, and helping everyone else through change.
If Artificial Intelligence really does have a big impact. sooner rather than later, then we need our future managers to be upskilled and ready.
There was a flurry of big companies in 2015 reportedly giving up on annual appraisals. People like Microsoft, Google, Netflix. However, as usual, you can't believe everything you read from journalists. Lets consider what actually happens because, let's face it, a lot of managers find the idea of regular review discussions quite challenging so ditching the one annual, documented, occasion might be a mistake.
95% of the HR managers at both events we ran on this topic had no faith in their managers to be effective in effective feedback.
A famous tech company reckons they spend 2 million hours p.a. on poor performance management. A CEO of another global company said that appraisals had too many topics mixed up in the discussion and they ended up being all about pay. "Its not the annual element I have problem with. It's the directive style....there is still a place for annual goal setting."
Research also shows that managers have a tendency to give the easier option of "satisfactory grades" and there is an inherent bias in that managers also are more likely to see "good" performance in employees they like or have the same style as them.
One CEO was quoted as saying " we want to drive a culture where staff ask us for feedback by empowering managers to ask what staff want next over the next three months. We will create lots of touch point data that will form a trend. When an annual review simply becomes about pay, it blurs things, and HR forgets to have more developmental and coaching conversations."
There are so many things wrong in that sentence; you don't need me to point them out but contact me if you don't see what I see.
So the top 5 tips from our research talking to HR Managers:
Are you coaching already and would like to get a qualification? Or are you looking to change career and start coaching?
Now is the time to take your future into your own hands and start something new and rewarding and become a great coach with support and training from experienced coaches.
....Action Changes Things!
You can join this programme at any time and complete in your own time largely through distance learning. We start with an initial face to face meeting and support you with at least 3 Skype meetings. You will be allocated a personal tutor who will guide you through this flexible elearning approach.
Who is this for?
You will be either coaching already and wish to gain an internationally recognised qualification, or you are seriously interested in coaching others at work.
No formal qualifications are required, just that you will be a practicing manager with some experience and the opportunity to coach others in the workplace during the programme.
Our tutors are all executive coaches with great coaching experience and the ability to coach you to pass.
Email Judith now for a full factsheet and to raise any questions you may have.
Create a Coaching Culture: ChecklistA summary from the ILM Coaching Survey 2017 and Forbes Magazine 2017 - 20 options to consider if you really want to create a culture of coaching.