The relationship between managers and their direct reports has undergone severe stress testing during the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, according to a Career Builder survey, 58% of managers have never received training in people management. In turn, HR leaders should not expect that managers are well equipped to support remote employees.
So, what do managers need to do differently to engage remote workers? Some of the answers can be found below in the four tips:
Reevaluate the Managerial Role
Many managers are accustomed to overseeing how work gets completed. When employees are working from home, this level of control isn't possible. Effectively managing remote teams requires different skill sets. It is important to understand each direct report's unique needs and challenges and find new ways to help everyone succeed. Have a conversation with your team, set or reset expectations and identify new ways to manage work output from your team.
Improve Active Listening Skills
For one-on-one and group interactions in virtual settings, active listening skills are needed to maximize participation and ensure effective communication. If concerns or challenges are expressed during meetings, be sure to ask questions. Managers will be able to better understand what problems employees are running in to and help provide clarity. Lastly, keep meetings and attendees focused by prohibiting texting and multi-tasking as well as providing an agenda.
Become an Employee Enabler
Employees are feeling anxious and disconnected. Without on-site interaction, managers need to do one-to-one touch-base sessions and ask, "How can I help?". Research conducted by Dr. Jack Wiley, Engage2Excel's chief scientific officer, reveals that a top priority for what employees want most from their managers is to "show support and understanding." Support for remote employees has never been more critical than now.
Focus on Results Not Processes
Without direct oversight or control over how employees are getting their work done at home, managers should focus on outcomes and results. Less self-directed employees may need help in structuring their work. Get input from everyone on virtual meeting benefits and be sure not to overlook the importance of using video for social interactions.
While 58% of managers say they've never received proper training, these tips are a great way to start bridging the distance between themselves and their remote employees. Keeping employees engaged during this time will allow them to feel like they are a part of a team and valued for their contributions.
Author's Note: This content originally appeared in our Rethinking Remote Work eBook.