Managing remote teams of people who are not accessible at all work hours and have their agenda now is a challenging endeavor that calls for new leadership models.
The more traditional an organisation is, the more the directors and managers are feeling a little like fish out of water in the present work-from-home scenario. In the industries that are used to a type of decentralized leadership and a more “relaxed” working environment, where “who’s doing what at what time” is less important than the fact that the job is being done, remote work should not be a problem.
However, if you’re used to ticking your card at 9 AM, and then again at 6 PM, and so are your employees, then “Houston we’ve got a problem”. Here’s what has changed in our vision.
Leadership Models: The 5 Ws of Remote Work
Usually, in an office working environment, managers would always know where the job is being done. In the office, in room X.
Who is doing the job would also be a sure thing.When would be a fixed hour between 9 AM and 5 PM.What would be the task and why – because “we need to reach the Z and Y objectives.
Now, where, when, and even who can be such relative terms. People are suddenly having their agendas and they’re no longer in the employer’s office. They’re in their own home, talking to their managers through Zoom or Webex, eye to eye level. No big conference room, no big chair, a big table to exert authority and control like in the office.
For the managers who were used to this kind of managing technique, now it’stime for a change.
No More “I’m Telling You”. Enter “I’m Asking You”
The management models of the future as we’re seeing them should deal with managing people and organisations which are not accessible at all work hours. The transformation should start at four different layers.
1. The environmental level
This is where managers should adjust to the technical side of things – kids crying, or dogs barking in the room, poor internet connection, interrupted communication, files that don’t work, employees muting themselves for the whole duration of the meeting, and so on.
It is easier not to show your face on the Zoom call, but on the other side, it is more difficult as a manager, not seeing your teammate's faces while communicating important aspects of the work process.
Then there’s the social, personal fabric of the team that might suffer when people don’t see face to face. Various adjustments need to be done here to ensure the proper engagement of all the team managers.
2. The team layer
Peer learning or mentorship is made difficult by the work-from-home scenario. Many workers learn the ropes from the other fellow teammates, that are near them, in the same room. Now, managers need to find alternatives to make this work as smoothly as before.
Maintaining the core of the team, monitoring any drifts, and misunderstandings between the team members are also made more difficult now than before.
Work-from-home is not an ideology. It is a temporary solution, that is why we see a lot of hybrid teams striving to work in synergy. For all of these, a new managerial model is needed.
3. The managerial ego layer
Now more than ever, it is the time for delegating management – empowering the employees at home, widening their responsibilities and allowing them to grow on their terms, guiding their development from a distance.
Micro-management should be replaced by broad directives, a vision, a team-empowering culture.
4. The efficiency layer
The new management model should work with relevant KPIs. Documentation is vital. Assessing team processing and activities, and debriefing are important parts.
Agility is the word on everybody’s lips at this point, and it is surely part of the future of leadership models and teamwork.