Working from home can be challenging. It is hard to organize your work schedule around your family and stay on task while so many other things are around to distract you. And it can be even harder to work from home if you are part of the leadership team at your organization. With all of your employees working from home, there needs to be well-defined goals and standards in place as well as strategic lines of communication. Time becomes an even more valuable asset, as you have less of an understanding of your team’s availability.
However, there are lots of proactive measures leaders can take to foster productivity and promote employee satisfaction. Here’s our top five strategic tips for successful organizational leadership from home!
Create a Plan and Shift Accordingly
By this time, your company has probably already released a statement acknowledging the current state of emergency and what you are doing to promote a safe work from home environment. This was likely a few days or even weeks ago, so now is the time to check back in. You cannot be afraid to ask the hard questions like: Are you doing what you originally said you would? If things aren’t going as planned, what have been the driving factors of these changes and do they need to be addressed on a broader scale? Is it time to revise your statement or possibly even release an updated address to your employees or social media followers? Focus on your messaging, making sure you honestly address the problems at hand while remaining positive and goal-oriented with new solutions ready.
Schedule Recurring Meetings
Recurring meetings are a key success factor in getting through this tough time. We can all get a little distracted at home and need something on the calendar to keep us on track. If this meeting occurs at the same time every day or week, you are instilling organization and giving employees something they can count on during a time when so much else is uncertain. Recurring meetings capitalize on the importance of the meeting, rather than just winging it each time and scheduling as you go. It allows you to plan and prepare any tasks as well as outline any questions that must be addressed.
At Squeeze, we have placed weekly meetings on the calendar amongst the leadership team as well as between the leadership and reporting employees. Leadership meets virtually at the start of each workweek at the same time, every time. This kicks the week off and creates a plan for the rest of the team moving forward. This plan is then communicated to employees individually throughout the day on Monday, during each person's predetermined meeting time. Then, on Friday, each employee has an end-of-week recap meeting with the leadership team to go over what was achieved, things left outstanding for the following week, as well as any remaining questions that need to be addressed. This way, we’re prioritizing effective communication across all levels of our team.
For larger teams, these weekly meetings can be further broken down by team or department. The core leadership team must meet weekly, if not daily, to discuss the state of the company and all current action items that must be passed down the organizational line. In a smaller company, teams often overlap. For example, at Squeeze, we’ve found success intertwining the social media strategy with our digital ads strategy, collaborating on the content we are producing across all platforms. During this time, it is a great idea to encourage employees to continue to schedule meetings on their own with each other to brainstorm. It also helps take some of the loneliness out of working from home and can help with overall team morale.
Allocate Resources as Necessary
We have all seen some pretty dramatic changes lately. So many businesses are shutting down or pausing operations, while some are busier than ever before. As leaders of an organization, we need to stay up to date on each of our clients’ unique situations, providing honest feedback and giving them their options. As clients' needs change, the way we work needs to change as well. Some clients may now require less work as they try to navigate the situation, while others may have some great opportunities to see new growth.
This will trickle down to employees and affect their workload. There’s sure to be questions about where to focus and how to spend their time. As a leader, you are responsible for understanding the time value of each employee and communicating to them how they can most effectively divide their time between clients as their needs change. Aside from time, financial resources may also need to change as you rebudget to meet the current needs of your business.
This last tip is probably the most important. Through all of the chaos, remember that behind the virtual call is your employee as well as their spouse, kids, pets, etc. They may not have a quiet office to work from, they may be a single parent just doing their best to get through each day, and little distractions may keep coming up. And that’s okay. The important thing is to remember that each person is dealing with this pandemic a little differently and we need to be empathetic towards their situation.
So ask your employee how they’re doing in the beginning of the meeting, ask about their family and ask how they are coping with all of the changes that have come about. As a result, your employee will know you care and you’ll have an increased understanding of how you can best serve as a leader during this time. We cannot let the digital world take over the human connection that our businesses truly survive on. When this is all over, the businesses that successfully take action to solve their problems and the leaders that effectively organize communications will be the ones to prosper!