Organizations are traversing new territory as they restructure the work environment, business operations, and employee processes, due to the coronavirus pandemic. This new normal has changed the culture of businesses.
While there is an exorbitant amount of information about how to work from home, what’s needed more is guidance for the organizations — and their leadership — on how to manage this new environment.
Business structures changed overnight for many; people who were used to a certain type of work schedule that included going into the office or to a job site, daily conference room meetings, lunch breaks, and assigned tasks find themselves kind of on their own.
Leaders used to seeing their employees in person are now actively reaching out to them by video conferencing, holding meetings in their spare bedrooms at home with their kids roaming outside the door, and traveling to other sites via their computer screen. On top of that, they’re fielding calls from everyone from employees to the president that range from seemingly small requests to crisis communications.
And everyone is under stress and suffering emotional and mental trauma, in a way, because of all these rather frightening changes. And sadly, the stress one person feels can trickle to others until it becomes their stress.
Remote work is likely the new normal, as many say, and is a huge part of business. This has brought many challenges, including managing the remote work and how to deal with two employee types to avoid burnout.
Self-disciplined employees versus disorganized employees
Self-disciplined employees are adept at focusing and motivating themselves to work. Usually they make their own schedules and can control their ability to follow those schedules. They are creative, forward-thinking individuals who work well on their own.
Disorganized employees are ones who need a schedule to follow. They typically need deeper guidelines and instructions, and they truly need other people, especially to motivate them. Disorganized employees need a time clock; they need regular meetings and updates; and they need others with whom they can reach out to have their questions and concerns answered.
Most of the time businesses and their leaders are dealing with the two personality groups — self-disciplined and disorganized. And that’s where the challenge comes in. Companies have to be careful not to treat all employees as either self-disciplined or disorganized.
The key is to understand who your employees are and their capabilities, and then adjust the assignments according to what they can manage.
Challenges with remote work
First, not all work can be done remotely. Some of it requires being physically on the job site. Someone has to operate machinery, drive trucks, and complete tasks that cannot be done via computer. Communicating these behaviors with others who are no longer there can cause frustration.
Second, not working shoulder to shoulder with our team creates misunderstandings, confusion and miscommunication. And when employees are not involved in brainstorming sessions and communications regarding the specific task or project at hand, and the objectives surrounding it, they are lost.
Third, new software programs and equipment add to the frustration and swallow valuable time and resources when the employees using them are ill-equipped.
Make quality communication a priority
Make sure the communications align across the company and there are no contradictions. If, for safety reasons, you cannot be with your team in person, use the video capabilities you have available to you to communicate. Video allows you, and everyone else, to use some of their senses (specifically sight and sound) to absorb the information and understand what is being communicated.
Keep your team regularly involved in meetings, brainstorming sessions and updates. If an employee misses a meeting, update him or her as soon as possible so as not to leave that person behind.
Encourage your team to ask questions and speak up regarding misunderstandings and to request clarifications. You want to make sure all members of your team walk away fully informed and understand exactly what is required from them.
Outline the specifics of the project, how it aligns with the broader scope of the company and its goals, and how the employees’ responsibilities contribute to the outcome.
As far as your workers who do not have regular access to a computer, you might have to make adjustments in your schedule to have frequent discussions and provide updates to them over the phone and in other communications mediums your company has set up to meet the employees’ needs.
Lastly, make sure all your employees are well trained on new equipment and software. Give them time to adjust and provide tutorials and needed training. Above all, be patient as everyone learns at a different pace. Recognize that while it’s difficult to learn something new, it is often overwhelming to learn several new things. And people who are not necessarily tech savvy and are used to having an in-house tech department are suddenly on their own.
Micromanaging leads to burnout
Micromanaging involves managers tracking every tiny detail with each employee and allowing little room — if any — for flexibility.
Employees begin to feel confined. There’s no room for creativity. They’re already dealing with fears related to what’s happening in the world around them, like if they’ll lose their job and how they will feed their family, and now, they’re afraid to use the bathroom.
Micromanaging is extreme, and employees are burning out. And leaders who micromanage their employees reveal their inability to lead their team through challenges.
While disorganized employees need a little more guidance, extreme measures will only discourage them further. They won’t be productive. And self-disciplined people won’t accept micromanaging. Period.
Think about this: You likely hired employees you trusted to fulfill their given responsibilities — people who could deal with change, would work well with others and would be an asset to your organization.
Micromanaging tells them you don’t trust them and you consider them lazy. If you hired irresponsible employees, what does that say about your hiring requirements?
Organizations should review the training they need to provide to their leaders. Leaders are navigating a new realm of leadership, and they need to be taught how to lead in this new domain. Leaders who do not understand how to lead remotely often micromanage.
The takeaway: Balance is needed to avoid leaning one way or the other with your communications, assigned tasks and management when navigating your two major personality types of employees: self-disciplined and disorganized.
Make quality communication a priority. Keep your team included in conversations and well-informed of everything involved in fulfilling assignments and projects. Make sure they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how it contributes to the overall outcome and goals of the company.
Ease your employees’ stress by helping them become familiar with new software and equipment.
And finally, take advantage of your company’s training opportunities to help you navigate a new realm of leadership. Leaders want to prevent burning out their team by avoiding the urge to micromanage.
Special Note: If you and/or your organization would like leadership training for overseeing remote teams, or training your remote workers be productive, call me for a free 30-minute consultation.