Worldwide coronavirus-related concerns have caused managers to lead their employees virtually.
What does the shift mean for us, our productivity and our employees?
How do managers have coaching conversations with remote teams and workers?
There are several things to keep in mind during these ever-changing times, which will help you be a better manager and coach in supporting remote workers.
First, this is not business as usual, but this is how things will be for a while. Working remotely is not a vacation day nor is it business as usual. These are different times. People are worried. Maybe you or your staff have parents or elderly relatives they are concerned about, children who are now at home because of closed schools, and the greater challenges of everyday life. An increased number of people are home using the internet so you may be challenged to find good internet access as students take more online classes. That can be an easy fix by putting nonessential connected devices on guest mode.
Second, manage your own state of mind. You can’t be a great listener and coach if you have your own concerns and needs. Be sure to center yourself through meditation or the outlet that works best for you and then focus on what needs to happen today.
Third, listen to understand. Be aware of any challenges individual staff and your team are facing. Be available for them and let them know the best ways to reach you, and Identify tools, resources and processes to help them. Serve as a coach, troubleshooter and supporter. Share information and updates – everyone is eager for the newest information.
Fourth, have regular check-ins. Be careful not to come across as ‘big brother not trusting them.’ Use this time to strengthen your relationships, gauge progress and help overcome barriers. These are times for greater openness, understanding and appreciation. Express gratitude.
Fifth, focus on continued growth and development. This is a great time to help your staff enhance their skills, their communication, and their leadership. Lots of webinars and classes are available online. Let your staff know that their development is essential for themselves and for your organization.
A number of good coaching models exist, and HCI is supportive of them. As an instructor for HCI's Coaching for Engagement and Performance certification, this course helps you identify the support processes needed to create a coaching culture.
A general coaching process:
Step 1: Check-in with your employee. Use centering if you are both coming from intense meetings and need to destress to focus on your conversation. Don’t leave this for the end of the day, “after the real work is done.” Coaching and developing your employees’ performances is real work!
Step 2: Focus on one key area to enhance, grow or develop that is needed for success. Employees should suggest the topic(s) and you mutually reach an agreement.
Step 3: Have your employee come up with suggestions on how they can best accomplish each goal. Help them be specific, help them do what they need to do, determine how they will do it and when, where, etc.
Step 4: Have each employee commit to a SMART action plan on how they can achieve their goal with interim steps along the way.
Step 5: Agree on next steps and check-in. Confirm the expectations of you and your employee. Offer to be available for questions along the way. These steps work whether you are in-person or online, and should take 10-20 minutes. The environment needs to be a trusting one where your employees know you have their best interests at heart. Make sure you’re in a quiet place and give them your undivided attention. This works best if you can use a visual platform instead of checking in over the phone.
As a manager, your employees look to you for support, guidance, and updates. Be open, honest, and communicate frequently. You’ll find that your employees will step up and perform the way you expect, and in the process, create a more open, trusting, and coaching culture.