April 25, 2020
Photo: Getty Images
“We often talk of managing the physical distance, but the real “game” is managing the relational distance,” says professor Eric Brunelle.
This text is part of the special Leadership
Overnight, hundreds of workers have discovered telework. In addition to having to manage the crisis situation, managers have had to quickly learn how to oversee their teams from a distance. But how to keep his troops motivated ?
1. Give the context
The work of manager has not changed dramatically with the crisis, but some aspects are more important. Thus, to ensure that employees know where they go, it is important that the manager is in. “With the crisis, it will probably be necessary to revisit the mission, the vision of the company. It is necessary to provide context to the activities, the reasons why you are doing things, ” says Cloé Caron, coach of business and founder of o2coaching. The teams will be more engaged, stimulated and empowered. In that context, the workers will understand how what they do relates to the overall vision and will be able to find how to work well.
2. Agree to terms and conditions
It is important to well define the logistical details (which tool to use, how it is organized), roles and responsibilities, expectations and deliverables, for his part, Eric Brunelle, professor of management at HEC Montréal. “It is very important to distance : some people may spend a lot of time to be anxious because they do not know where we are going. We must clarify things, ” said Mr. Brunelle. This mental map is built elsewhere with the work team.
The coach Nadia Caron also suggests drawing up a contract, which establishes the vision and how to achieve it : “For example, how often will talk about it ? How to structure the meeting ? “This tool is useful in all circumstances, but particularly at a distance :” What one gets after a meeting, in the informal sector, is not here at this time “, said Ms. Caron. She advises, for example, to provide the means to raise the tough questions in a meeting, either by a round table discussion or a vote. “We must put in place concrete mechanisms and practices that enable the team to express themselves, but also to continue to move forward,” she continued.
3. Manage the distance
“We often talk of managing the physical distance, but the real gameis to manage the relational distance,” said Mr. Brunelle. Managers must learn to communicate differently and clearly. You can also schedule times informal, such as 5 to 7 virtual. “It is often in the informal that one feels the pulse, as it exercises its leadership,” explains the professor. And to be near his team, he should not be afraid to open up, to share : “The relational distance goes in both directions “, said Mr. Brunelle. Attention : with the technology and the distance, there is a tendency to quickly enter a logical productive, ” but the work is also a social fabric. The manager must allow the noise to the noise “, he adds.
4. Adopt a leadership different
“Managing from a distance is not quite the same work as face-to-face, when the manager can capture the state of mind of the team. This is a big challenge, ” believes Eric Brunelle. “Because of the crisis and the decisions to be taken on the plan of the operation, the leader becomes more of a “micromanager” and it works [more] in the operations, ” says Cloé Caron. However, it is the ideal time to become a leader coach, which allows members of the team to think differently, ” she says. A leader coach raises more questions than it gives answers ; it promotes the development of reflection and accountability. “If we become too prescriptive, we deprive ourselves of innovations very important,” says the one who was ahead of the launch of her book Ignite your team to help the leaders in this context, particular.
5. Be empathetic
Remote work is not for all, managers as well as employees, said Mr. Brunelle. The varied situations of workers are exacerbated at this time : “The managers sometimes have the reflex to transpose what they live at home “, he warns. The concept of control takes on a whole new meaning to distance : as we do not control the time worked, there is a focus on control of deliverables. “The trap would be to enter into a logic of equivalence with the face-to-face,” concludes Mr. Brunelle.
Good to know
Managers would be responsible for 70 % of the climate of a work team.
The research shows that remote work in all its forms, when it is managed well, can improve employee performance by 22% in the first year.