6 tips for staying connected in today’s remote business environment
Managing the “people part” of business today
We are officially into the new work from home reality and have to face that things may never go back to the standard office ecosystem.
As I talk to various clients around the country, leaders are working hard to manage the “people part” of business in this remote environment. With video conference after video conference and teams often geographically dispersed, many are feeling like it’s just not the same.
So how do we find ways to connect with teams and employees as human beings and re-imagine collaboration, communication and connection? We need to be creative and chart out new approaches to everything from onboarding employees to performance reviews and water cooler chats. Here are six ideas on how to re-imagine and maximize these systems for business today.
Hiring new employees is certainly a tougher task in a remote environment versus in-person interviews, but it can be done and will likely continue to be a new standard.
According to a recent LinkedIn report, “81% of talent professionals say virtual recruiting will outlast COVID-19.” I recommend developing an interview guide with standardized questions used across interviewers to compare and contrast candidates.
Consider including some lighter questions or being creative with the interview process to help create more of that human connection and give both the candidate and business owner or hiring manager more confidence in the decision-making process.
Leveraging an outside resource who can offer objective feedback on candidates can be a worthwhile investment and far less than the cost of hiring the wrong person for the job.
A deliberate onboarding plan is more critical than ever in the current business environment. Helping new hires navigate the work environment, when millions are working from home, is even more critical today to ensuring engagement and ongoing success.
Companies I work with have found it helpful to schedule 1:1 calls for new hires with a variety of stakeholders inside the company to help them get acquainted with the framework and personalities within the organization in the first few days or weeks on the job.
Leveraging structured questions for these 1:1 sessions with the new hire will help them start to uncover and understand expectations, team dynamics, culture and begin building relationships, even if the team is working remotely.
Assigning a mentor or one to two key people in other parts of the organization to check-in with the new employee on a number of occasions during the first 30 days can help create that sense of connection and purpose. This can be as simple as an email, text message or hand-written note.
The feeling of being spread too thin is a common challenge for many employees in the workforce today. Add in the additional duties and distractions of kids who may be learning remotely, new policies or team dynamics, and it becomes especially important for leaders to initiate and maintain 1:1 check-ins with their employees or team members and to set aside some time to just hear how they are doing.
Simultaneously, leaders need to find their own outlets to ideate, discuss challenges and share. In the book The Power of Full Engagement, authors James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz talk about managing energy and the importance of self-care and care of others to help everyone stay in the game. A peer group, networking discussion or call with another entrepreneur can offer support in these times.
Don’t shelve your leadership development initiatives until the pandemic passes. People are hungry for growth and development right now.
Revamping or initiating leadership development opportunities within your organization will show your employees that they are relevant and important to the organization whether you employ three people or three thousand.
Think of it as an investment in your organization, as well as the individual, as development helps increase peer relationships, improves culture and helps build confident leaders who can navigate the increasing complexity of business today.
Performance Reviews & Feedback
Structure and advance preparation are key to any performance review or assessment, but especially in today’s remote or distanced work environment.
Ask employees to do a self-assessment prior to their review to offer feedback and help leadership gage and reconcile gaps in perceptions. This can help both people prepare for the discussion with some level of introspection and self-awareness.
In times like these, it can feel as if we have stopped some of our forward progress so the gift of feedback allows someone to continue developing and growing, which is a basic human need, and critical for organization development, culture and team building.
Water Cooler Chats
What I hear most from clients is missing the days of causal office conversation—stopping by someone’s office for a quick chat or meeting in the break room around the coffee pot.
Today, when every conversation seems like it requires a 30-minute video call, I encourage clients to have some part of each day unscheduled for meetings and to use that time to pick up the phone and see how someone in the organization is doing. The result will be deeper connectivity and communication that we are seeking more than ever today.
Mary Kaiser has over 30 years of consulting and coaching expertise developing leaders, teams and organizations. Her passion is helping people understand their strengths and inner mindsets to overcome obstacles and achieve positive outcomes in both their personal and professional life. Reach Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect at www.marybkaiser.com.