5 ways to strengthen your leadership in a work-from-home environment

  1. Rethink meetings.
    I’m hearing that people are overloaded with meetings and that there’s a lot of Zoom fatigue setting in. I’m not surprised, and I’m feeling that fatigue as well.
    Now, we need to have better meetings than ever before. We’ll cover some essential meeting principles in a subsequent blog or video, but your leadership depends so much on the quality of your meetings, so get them right.
  2. Be spontaneous.
    The spontaneity of the “wander by” or the chance meeting at the coffee machine is lost for many of us, but I think there are still ways to be spontaneous. Have pizza delivered to someone’s home. Pick up that old relic of communication called the phone and make a call. Make a video of yourself lip-synching to We Are the Champions. Send a text message of no substance at all to let people know you’re still out there. Let’s not let this get too boring – please.
  3. Make information more readily available.
    In so many client companies, we see that many of their meetings are simply to pass on information. It takes much longer to listen to someone say a sentence than to read that same sentence on a page. Verbal interaction is only valuable if there’s some interactivity involved. If you’re just trying to get information into people’s hands and heads, do so in different ways. If you don’t trust that people will read what you send them, make sure they know that this might be their only chance to see it. And, in general, think about how you share information in all ways.
  4. Maybe email needs to be rethought too.
    I think a lot of companies have given up on email as an effective way to communicate, but maybe it’s an art form that deserves to be resurrected. A good, informative, concise email might be a good idea right now.
  5. Think about new people.
    If you’re part of an experienced team of people who already know one another, then this is probably going OK for you. But as new people come into your team in a work-from-home situation, they still need to make connections. And, they will have a much more difficult challenge in learning about and becoming part of a cohesive culture than they would if they were physically present. Think about ways to get them comfortable with their co-workers. Perhaps individual meetings with each member would be a good part of their onboarding. Maybe they could make a quick video of themselves, so the team knows their circumstances, history, and interests. Perhaps you need some sort of onboarding event.

There is no reason why you should consider this current WFH circumstance as being temporary. For many of us, it may become permanent. And when COVID passes over, I might guess that less than half of us won’t have had to make some lasting changes in how we interact with one another, and how we lead. I understand the sadness and lamentations of many of you for whom in-person contact is the lifeblood. But this is what we have to work with, and maybe making the best of it now will position you very well for whatever happens next.

Don’t be surprised if a future stock job-interview question will be “Have you ever managed in a WFH environment, what did you learn, and what are your success factors in leading groups this way?”

About the Author

Sarah Thomson

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