Woman working from home with her child playing next to her

Leading through Level changes and lockdowns

As lockdowns and level changes take hold across Aotearoa, managers might be asking themselves what is the best way to connect and support their teams? Good leadership right now is much more than having regular video calls and a project management board. In fact, overseas lockdown leadership skills have focussed more on pastoral care than workflow.  

One size does not fit all 

The global pandemic has been a worldwide, unprecedented crisis. Now more than ever people want certainty and strength. Remember that remote people management is not a logic problem that needs to be resolved to inspire productivity – you are managing real people through a crisis, and your human-side is going to be more important in your leadership role than ever.  

Make sure you catch up with team members individually over Zoom or the phone and discuss what works for them and what worries them. Everyone is going to have different concerns so a different approach to your leadership role will be needed with each person. 

Identifying the risks for employees early on is key to success. Does the office extrovert who feeds off the team’s energy live alone? They may be struggling with the anxiety that comes from being locked in with only your own company. Is your team superstar ploughing on apparently undeterred by the disruption? Watch out for signs of burnout – they may be taking on too much to divert their stress response. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and visualise what they might be dealing with.  

Three ways to settle your team 

1. Push aside misgivings: Even if you have always been a homeworking sceptic, now is not the time to spread the word. Sure, acknowledge the challenges people are facing, but also embrace the opportunity. Find the positives in home working and share them with your team. Encourage them with statistics from overseas – did you know working from home increased productivity by 13% according to researchers at Stanford? Embrace the situation and meet it with humour and optimism; a positive outlook is key.

2. Communicate clearly: Make sure everyone is well-briefed, not just about what tasks they need to complete but what is expected of them while working from home. Be flexible. If staff members are supporting children, or caring for another family member, it is unrealistic to expect them to be on Teams for 8-hours each day. Allow them to manage their own time effectively, and make sure they know it’s okay to take a break during normal office hours. Micro-management won’t sit well with your team at this time.

3. Don’t err too much: To err is human so remember to be patient with your team. Understand your company’s strategy and make definitive decisions quickly. Remote working can cause timeframes to slow. It can be hard to pin people down and get the answers you need. Don’t endlessly refer problems to senior staff, strike out on a path and be prepared to swerve when needed.

IMNZ have a raft of resources available, including online courses.




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