Times are uncertain and many things have been left up in the air. For many employees, managers and business owners this uncertainty only enhances fear and stress. In times like these, as a small business owner, I have relied on these ten tips to lead and empower my employees through this unknown territory.
1. Accept and Adapt To Our New Reality
Let’s face it, the way we work is changing and will be impacted forever due to the pandemic. As the leader of my businesses, it’s important that I am embracing this change and supporting them in their adaptation. With new obstacles like at-home childcare, technology accessibility and more, they’ll need all of the support they can get from family, friends and especially their employer.
2. Show Employees That You Genuinely Trust Them
While it’s my job to ensure my employees are getting their jobs done, (virtually) hovering over their shoulder only proves distrust and doubt. I know they’re capable in their positions, after all, I hired them for a reason. By allowing extended hours, brief check-ins, and time to communicate with questions or concerns, you show them that you believe (and trust) in their abilities to accomplish successful work while at home.
3. Foster An Atmosphere of Teamwork
Whether it be weekly Zoom calls, a message change in Slack, or a Facebook group, it’s important that employees are staying connected to one another. These days we all need a little extra socialization, and starting with co-workers who share the same experience isn’t a bad start.
4. Communicate Regularly
Communication is even more essential than before. A quick email to the entire team, relaying my continuous support or simply stating a quick hello for the day, begins the day in the right step in terms of keeping strong connections between myself and employees.
5. Publicly congratulate individual accomplishments
No matter how big or small, recognizing the hard work of each of my employees boosts productivity and continues our streak of continual communication. For many employees, it feels good to be appreciated and pushes them, and their co-workers, to continue their great work. Generally, I do this in the team emails mentioned above.
6. Provide Updates Through Virtual Meetings
Yet again, communication is the key to great leadership and teamwork while working remotely. A weekly, virtual conference call on our preferred platform helps us discuss what needs to be done immediately and what can be pushed back. Not only does this give our team a sense of normalcy, it also helps employees see where they can dig in to meet our company goals.
7. Celebrate The Team’s Achievements
We’re all working on adapting to our situation, and we need to acknowledge that. Even if our team is making baby steps, I like to recognize that we are indeed moving in the right direction. Like individual acknowledgements, celebrating team achievements promotes a sense of empowerment and drive within team members and gives us something to be proud of.
8. Make Compromises
Not everyone is prepared to return to the office. If things are going smoothly from a remote location, there may be no need to change that. For instance, I assured one employee that she will not be asked to return to the office, because I know her elderly mother-in-law is at high risk. I am trusting that she will continue to do great work for the firm. As businesses begin to re-open, I have relayed to my employees that they should feel comfortable at work, even if that means staying in their remote location.
9. Reward Their Productivity
My employees have done a great job at staying productive while at home, and for that I am allowing them to continue to work remotely three days a week, even as businesses begin to re-open. Not only does this help protect them and their families, but it also gives them more control in our current situation, something we haven’t had much of since the start of the pandemic.
10. Have Fun
Right now, the world outside of our homes isn’t exactly classified as “fun”. People are stressed and confused and the information just keeps pouring in. Making remote work fun is what keeps employees motivated. An additional action I took was to designate a team member as an “Official Cheerleader.” She adds a little extra amusement to our daily emails and comes up with a new image every day!
Business owners and managers play a crucial role in sustaining employee morale and productivity. Our leadership is the backbone of an energized, connected, functional workforce.
Along with these ten tips, I have included my twelve keys to leadership. They are as follows:
- Systematic operating systems
- Employment agreements and job descriptions (written down and communicated)
- Proper and thorough training
- Tools to do the job
- A Great workplace atmosphere
- World-class company Culture
- Performance based compensation and benefits
- Have fun
Remember that we are also transitioning to this new form of work and it will take practice and time to get things back to normal–somewhat. Let us know how you’re leading your team.