Be a great line manager to your home working team members

by Suffolk Mind Team | 16 Apr 2020

Written by Sue Gray, Senior Trainer of The Mental Health Toolkit by Suffolk Mind.

For many people, working at home during COVID-19 is a new thing and so of course that means it’s new for the people who line-manage too. Your team needs you more than ever and as managers you may be feeling it’s hard to keep on top of what and how your people are doing. It’s still your job to do this though. You may feel you are not meeting your own need for ‘control’ when it comes to the people who report to you. How you do this during COVID-19 will need to be slightly altered and new ways of managing your team introduced.

And beware …to meet that need for control you may have become a bit of a ‘micro manager’ or ‘control freak’! A very normal response and not that helpful to the healthy and effective functioning of your team members.

Top tips for remote line-management during COVID-19

  1. Check that each of your team members have created a space & routine to work at home; they have a dedicated place to work in, a start and finish time to follow and they have had a conversation with the people they live with to communicate that when they are working they need not to be interrupted. This isn’t driven by concern as an employer that they won’t ‘give you the hours’ but it is the most effective way to reduce stress and get needs met and so keep people enjoying their work and feel motivated. AND – make sure you have done this for yourself too. Taking care of yourself and your needs will enable you to have the clear thinking and resources to support your team well.
  2. Check your team members have all the equipment and internet connection they need to do their job. Connect them to technical support they can access when required; check they can use the online conference platform your organisation is using and build their confidence with them.
  3. Communication – keep it consistent and clear.

    a. Perhaps start every morning with a quick ‘huddle’ – how are people doing? What are they planning for the day?

    b. Have weekly / regular 121 checkins with each of your team members – again they can be quite short. Fix a time and stick to it. Follow an agreed work plan.

    c. Create ‘watercooler’ conversation opportunities – create online lunch together, or tea and coffee gatherings for informal chats and conversations among the team.

  4. Check-in / remind your team members about their personal self-care systems – what have they found works for them? Maybe a daily walk, drinking plenty of water, eating well, fun activities and getting their needs for meaning and purpose, community, privacy, achievement and sleep met. Check on childcare and others responsibilities too.

  5. Trust them – don’t micro-manage!  Have clear discussions about tasks and projects, discuss priorities and agree a plan. Have a clear system for them alerting if their work schedule is falling behind or if there are blocks they can’t sort out. Be clear about how you want feedback on their work – and stick to that. Empower them to be self-directed and liaise well with the other people they need to. This will greatly increase their ability to feel in control, meet their needs for achievement and meaning and purpose and enable them to stay focused.

by Suffolk Mind Team
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