Here's my top tips on managing a team during the current crisis.
I’ll start off by saying, it probably boils down to one golden rule, but as the internet loves a list let’s park that and I’ll let you work out what that is… it’s not difficult if you read on.
Part of why I love working at Cedar is the fact that everyone gets on fantastically well, as cliched as it sounds, we are like a family. There is lots of banter, (like most offices) but we know when to draw the line. We have meetings, but not for meetings' sake, we have a very open culture; everyone helps everyone. We are an honest and open organisation, if someone makes a mistake, they will openly disclose it. If someone has a personal problem, they often share it. One reason why we have a lot of repeat business is down to how we communicate, we share information internally and help each other understand our clients needs. We have a flexible working policy where if needed, you can work from home.
On a day-to-day basis, however, people are based in the office. So, when it was advised to work from home the panic set in. How would we be able to uphold our high-performing, fun, collaborative, supportive culture? The last thing I wanted was for people to feel isolated, both literally and metaphorically, especially during this challenging time. In the six weeks I have learnt the following: Speak to people on video as much as possible and include personal (non-work related) conversation. This is important in order to continue build rapport and gain trust and has the benefit of connecting us to the world outside our bubbles Set clear expectations. People work better with a clear goal in mind and reaffirm your message if needed, to ensure it is understood Keep having one on ones, keep people motivated and make sure you follow up. Try and do this daily as 24 hours can be a long time not speaking and it helps keep people and projects on track Ensure teams keep communicating with clients/candidates. It connects us to the outside world and helps adjust the operational focus accordingly. Customers also know that that we are still thinking of them and that as we exit the current situation, we will be in a place to support them Have scheduled group meetings and set an agenda to create the continuity of the working day. Routine is important even in normal times, but especially during periods of uncertainty. Having structure and a reason to brush your hair helps motivate.
Don’t ‘over manage’, it is very easy to worry that if you can’t see what people are doing, they may not be keeping to task. Trust your people, there’s a reason you hired them in the first placeTry to avoid cancelling a one 2 one. You don’t want employees to feel undervaluedContinue leading by example-share with the team what you are doing to demonstrate accountability.
Use your CRM and monitor activity not success. This is not a market where it’s reasonable to ask teams to ‘get out there and sell’. We want them to be there to support customers and it helps motivation for employees to know someone is paying attention.
Make yourself available, both as a manager and as an empathetic person. Friendships and bonds can be built and strengthened in time of adversity. Treats this as an opportunity to get to know your employees betterIn summary, you shouldn’t underestimate the influence of a manager on creating a collaborative and healthy culture, be it remotely or face to face and as many things in life communication is key. Managers must keep teams engaged, connected and feeling valued, even more so in these unprecedent times. Continue to remain positive, professional, fair and empathetic and above all stay safe and as short cockney in a BT advert once said, “its good to talk”.