The Covid-19 crisis will have been a significant test of your management skills. We are now past the worst of the ‘initial’ crisis, and as leaders, we must pick up the pieces to rebuild and strengthen our teams in what will be a challenging time.  

No leader can tell how prepared they are for any crisis until it happens.  

No amount of management training could have prepared us for the global pandemic, but what is essential is that leaders learn from their successes and mistakes, and that of others, to be a better leader in our post-Covid world.  

Today I’m going to discuss how you can become a better leader in our new virtual world. 

Let’s start with new protocols.  

 

Being Virtually Available  

 

 

Your management training will not have prepared you for the number of virtual meetings, training and one-to-ones that you will have been conducting recently.  

Now, as we tentatively say that things are ‘getting back to normal’, there are some aspects of our lives that will remain forever changed by Covid.  

There will be an increase in remote working, demanding that your virtual management skills are just as effective as your previous in-person capability. 

Which means being acutely aware of picking up on cues from your team that they need help. This could be in their emails and messages, over the phone or on video. It is more challenging to talk about the challenges we might be having in a virtual setting; so open the space for your team to speak with you. 

How often are you checking in with employees? How meaningful do you feel your phone or video conversations are? Do you think you could be better at nurturing remote working relationships? 

Now is the time to think about expanding on your virtual management skills – an essential for our ‘new normal’.  

 

Flexible Working 

Flexibility is going to be vital as we move forward – letting go of a rigid ‘9-5’ ideal should be high on your list of priorities. 

Being a better leader will mean doing what is best for your team – this could mean shorter meetings, allowing for flexible working hours, being more open to quick ‘drop-in’ sessions when an employee has a pressing matter. 

It can be tempting as a manager to think that high productivity comes from having a water-tight plan related to what your employees are doing every hour of the week – when in reality this is not the case. 

Being flexible with both their needs and then asking for flexibility from them for the needs of the organisation is a great way to strike the right balance.  

 

Empowering Your Team  

 

 

Allowing your team to have more autonomy and to feel empowered to make the right decisions is going to be essential in the coming months.  

Research shows that virtual teams are not less productive; they do, however, consider virtual communication to be less successful, which can then impact the quality of their work. 

Being a better leader is all about serving your team with their best interests in mind, rather than the top-down approach many leaders think is most effective.  

Lead by example; create a culture of trust and transparency, and inspire your team to act as you would do, rather than having them wait for you to make decisions for them or to hold their hand every step of the way. 

When physical distance prevails, you must trust that your team are equipped with the right skills to make their best decisions and do their best work independently.  

 

Employee Wellbeing and Mental Health 

It is no secret that Covid-19 has had an impact on the mental health of the nation.  

Throughout history, there are documented rises in mental health problems following disasters – this Nuffield Health survey aims to find out the lasting impacts the lockdown had on our mental health – it makes for an interesting read.  

The study highlights that never before have we faced such challenges, and making sense of them, while working throughout has not been an easy task for many.  

What kind of mental health and wellbeing policies do you have in your organisation?  

Now is the time to step up and take a look at the mental wellbeing of your team. 

A simple one-to-one conversation with each member will be able to guide you as to who is doing fine, or who might be struggling.  

Struggling mentally can lead to stress – which now accounts for over half of all sick days taken in the UK. Having a team member who is struggling with stress can impact the entire team, and as always, prevention is better than the cure.   

 

The Changed Employment Landscape  

 

 

A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Management found that 86% of managers are making significant changes to their organisation to offset the impact of Covid-19.  

I have written a blog post about guiding your team through a post-Covid world, which you can read here.  

To summarise the article, the bottom line is that things have now changed to such a degree that you must address whether your management skills are up to speed for the new world we now find ourselves occupying. 

Maybe you’re streamlining, or diversifying your business – some departments might have become smaller, while others are expanding.  

Communicate to your team if, and how things are changing at every step of the way. This will build trust and reduce anxiety or fear within your team.  

 

Next Steps? 

Managing in a changed, virtual environment is a topic on many leader’s minds right now. 

If you are new to managing a virtual team and would like extra support, head to our blog where you will find a range of leadership articles, or click here to learn more about the leadership programmes we lead. 

 

Until next time, 

Julia  

 

About Zestfor 

Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.       

Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.