November 24, 2020
A lot has been said about better enabling and better managing remote work for organizations. However, little has been said about assessing management’s new role as remote leaders.
Remote work is new territory for a lot of businesses, and it makes sense that the majority of the focus has been on making sure that employees in general are set up for success. Likewise, that focus then shifts to measuring how productive employees are, and how to make sure both the employees themselves and the work they’re responsible for is being looked after.
Where does management’s performance fit into this picture? They’re a separate but important part of both productivity levels and overall organizational health, but are also, when it comes down to it, humans dealing with change.
Tips for Assessing Your Remote Management Teams
1. Look at communication—both patterns and volume.
- Are they communicating with their team(s) and other leadership?
- Are they only communicating when checking on a project?
This is a big clue in how dialed in a leader is, and if their leadership skills are translating effectively to remote work. Look at times of day communication is taking place and how they’re scheduling their time.
Real-life happens when working from home, and needs to be adapted to no matter what position an employee holds, but availability for team member support and problem-solving is a big deal; as is keeping other leadership well informed. Work with them on shaping their schedule to be more accommodating if this is an issue.
2. Methods change, but processes still need to be accounted for.
- Have they provided details on how they have adapted processes for working remotely?
- Are methods of review in place to periodically check the success of how these adapted processes are working?
When managing any change, things need to be properly accounted for. Approach this as yet another thing we’re all learning. Keep plans fluid, welcome feedback on how things can be improved or modified, and collaborate on a review process.
As mentioned above, we’re all still learning and adjusting, so any and all methods for modifying processes can and should be shared with other leadership—the way one member of leadership has adapted their processes might workwell for others, and vice versa.
3. How their team members are doing can tell you a lot about their remote leadership skills.
- Is information being passed on and received in the way it was intended?
- What quality is the communication, and level of support and assistance their team(s) are receiving?
- Are things like employee career goals, job fulfillment, feedback, etc., still being accounted for?
Check-in on a management’s team members beyond surveys and formal processes. Yes, these tools can help you get an overall picture of how management is doing, but one-on-one and small group feedback that can be assessed and relayed anonymously is irreplicable.
Finding out more from team members can also help with overall organizational direction and management planning and training.
4. Are they modeling the right behavior?
- If your organization is asking employees to be adaptable, is your remote management showing them how to adapt?
- How open, honest, and receptive are they regarding change?
- If you’re asking employees to look after mental health, take time off, etc.; are they leading the way?
Top-down leadership is still key. It’s one thing to hear management say “I understand what you’re going through,” and another thing entirely to be sat on a Zoom call and see the VP of your department’s small child interrupt the meeting to ask for a snack.
Obviously, things like that can’t be planned. What can be planned are things like having an open-door policy, letting team members know they’re taking a mental health day, taking the vacation you’re asking everyone to take, or talking openly about how they’ve personally had to adapt to working from home with their team.
Empowering Leadership Remotely
1. Define roles and expectations.
- Everyone’s role changes with remote work.
- Be clear and concise about what you want leadership to do and what you expect.
- Be flexible, and involve them in the process.
- Bring in outside help if you want to avoid common mistakes.
- Don’t expect leadership to get things right without direction.
- Your management teams will need both emotional and practical support and resources.
- Make sure tools are varied and easy to access.
3. Offer remote learning opportunities.
- Management will need to learn how to lead remotely, but think about other remote learning opportunities as well.
- Remote work often means needing to utilize other new skills, so fill those gaps for leadership as well as employees.
- Having management lead learning seminars can be useful for team building.
4. Model the behavior you want to see.
- This is vital for all levels of management.
- Like #4 on the previous section’s list of tips, it’s upper management’s job to model the behavior you want to see in other leadership and employees as well.
- This includes following all the tips for assessment we provided above, and conducting executive training seminars when you need to get things right.
If your organization needs help, advice, or resources to adapt to remote work—or any other planned or unplanned organizational change—contact us.