Managers, do you know how to lead from home?

Managers, do you know how to lead from home?

The overnight transition from office work to remote work in winter 2020 took organizations and employees by surprise. According to a Harvard study reported in the Harvard Business Review, 41% of managers experienced difficulties maintaining relationships with their staff while working remotely. Similarly, only 40% of teleworking employees said they felt supported by management.

Today, nearly three years later, we all know that remote and hybrid work are here to stay—for better or for worse. As a leader, you may have changed your work schedule, but have you changed your management style?

From micromanaging to micro-understanding

Keeping your team’s performance up takes the right balance of trust and supervision. On the one hand, micromanaging can easily lead to an unproductive work environment and unmotivated employees. On the other, an absent manager—or one constantly tied up in meetings—leaves employees to their own devices, goalless and directionless, which can create a deep sense of insecurity.

Through micro-understanding, executives can keep an eye on potential problems without sacrificing team autonomy or morale. By better integrating themselves into team workflows, managers can identify vulnerabilities, monitor trouble spots and problem-solve as needed. They trust and delegate but remain available and ready to support the work effectively. They act as coaches—in the game without being on the field.

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Focusing on the “what,” not the “how”

Remote or not, what managers do remains the same: inspire their teams and guide them toward success. The thing that has changed is how to do it in an impersonal virtual workspace.

The pandemic showed us that productivity does not require physical presence. Therefore, rather than conflating presenteeism with productivity, cultivate a trusting and optimistic environment where each employee can feel empowered and motivated to perform. Focus more on managing results and less on managing time—show trust.

Enabling through leadership

According to the Harvard study, employees expect their managers to play an enabling role by rethinking and reinforcing their work methods to adapt to the virtual workplace, where informal connections have become rare.

Prioritize for yourself, your executives and your staff. Make sure that all your employees know their roles within your team dynamic and within each project. Rethink your processes and make better use of technology, especially dashboard and project management tools, to assign tasks and monitor progress.

The virtual workplace can also dampen engagement by creating a dearth of casual spaces where events and achievements, big and small, can be celebrated. As an enabling manager, you also have a responsibility to ensure that recognition—a key ingredient of team spirit and engagement—does not fall by the wayside when you are physically far apart.


Virtual onboarding

If you are recruiting executives or employees for entirely remote work, be sure to make yourself truly available to them during their first few weeks on the job. Check in every day to make sure they are doing well, get them in touch with key contacts and answer their questions.

Building ties in a new company is much less natural with remote work. Your involvement is essential to facilitating new employees’ onboarding, making sure they are well positioned in your organizational game plan and fostering their success.
— François Piché-Roy, President and Senior Consultant, PIXCELL



Making connections (and not just network connections)

Although the new reality of work places physical barriers between managers and their teams, two things remain constant. One is that managers still play a crucial role in their teams’ performance and engagement. The other is that showing compassion, trust and a real willingness to connect to others remains essential, no matter how far you are from your team.

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