The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't just changed the way we live; it's also impacted the way we work. With health experts pleading with Americans to practice social distancing, many employers have shifted employees to remote setups.
It's a smart move from a health perspective, but a tricky situation to adjust to. As a manager, however, it's your job to help ensure that things run as smoothly as possible during these turbulent times. With that in mind, here are a few mistakes to avoid at all costs during the ongoing crisis.
1. Not checking in with employees regularly
It's easy to let employees go off and work independently when they're out of sight. But just because you're not observing issues or hearing complaints doesn't mean that your team is content. You may have employees who are struggling with remote access to internal systems, or who are having communication issues with colleagues that are resulting in project delays. That's why it's so important to check in with your team regularly.
If you have a smaller number of employees to manage -- say, under 20 -- it's reasonable to shoot each person on your team an individual email once a week to see how things are going. And if you're in charge of a larger team, a weekly email blast to everyone is certainly better than nothing. That way, you'll send the message that you're available and willing to jump in if help is needed.
2. Canceling team meetings
Many workers loathe meetings and find them boring and useless. But while now may not be the time to add meetings to people's calendars, you shouldn't be so quick to cancel recurring meetings that are already on people's radar.
Right now, your employees might really value the option to check in with each other, exchange words of support, and enjoy a few minutes of connection. So consider keeping those meetings in place, especially if they lend to improved communication and productivity.
3. Letting performance issues slide
Let's be clear: Now's not the time to be more stringent than necessary on the workflow front (more on that in a bit). At the same time, if you have employees on your team with known performance issues -- say, neglecting key deadlines or failing to communicate with others -- don't let those issues fester or worsen just because your team is remote.
You should still be pushing your employees to overcome any challenges that are holding them back or affecting other people on the team. And if you come at it from a position of wanting to help, not berate, those discussions will probably be well-received.
4. Putting unreasonable pressure on workers -- especially those without child care
Chances are, you have at least a few people on your team who are now working remotely, but also have young children at home to care for and homeschool during the ongoing crisis. And those are the employees who could really use some flexibility right about now.
While you don't have to take assignments off their plate, you should, for example, be willing to let them skip team meetings without backlash if they conflict with child care duties. And you should be patient with those who can't be as productive during the day, but log on after hours instead to finish up tasks once their kids are asleep. Of course, it's a good thing to be flexible with all of your employees right now, not just the parents. But if you know there are people on your team with young kids, cut them some slack.
As a manager, you have an opportunity to make a challenging time just a bit easier on the people who work for you. It you step up in that regard, there's a good chance your team members will remain loyal once the COVID-19 crisis subsides and the job market opens back up again.