For many months now, I've been noticing that the pandemic and working from home has been weighing on managers. For many, workflow seems to have accelerated and managing tasks, at a distance, brings a baggage of obstacles and questions: how do I adapt my managerial position while working remotely, how do I build team spirit, how do I vivify team meetings, integrate a new team member, manage conflicts, perceive emotions, feel the overall vibe of my team... without being present?
How do you adjust your stance? I'm often asked what are the tricks and good practices. I would say, by having a coaching posture (which enables you to reflect rather than search for automatic answers). With all the ideas and suggestions from the last year, I'm proposing two paths to help you find good practices to manage and create proximity while working remotely.
I know what you're thinking: ''There already aren't enough hours in the day so how am I going to dedicate time to reflect?''. What if slowing down, thinking about how you manage and being able to have an objective point of view on situations were the key to giving you more hours in the day? The feeling of not having enough time and being overwhelmed usually dives us into a very operational and reactive mode that leads us to dismiss priorities and focus on the 'small stuff'. This enables us to put our managerial hat aside and we then focus less on the development of our team which should always be our main priority as a leader.
What could be the benefits if you allowed yourself some time to take a step back and reflect on your managerial role? The meaning of the word manager obviously brings us to the act of managing. That said, how many hours a week to do allocate to managing?
When we take time to think, we can ask ourselves who we really need to be, right now, for our team. We can take charge of our tasks and ask ourselves how we can manage them better. Moreover, how we can adapt our practices to the new reality of working from home, to mobilize, delegate, manage conflict and create a team spirit.... without being physically present? Also, we idolize what we would want to see in our teams such as individuals that take a breath and a step back, think, question, and optimize their contribution for the benefit of the organization. The best way for positive contagious behavior in your team is to embody it first.
A wise friend of mine, Remi, used to address managers by saying "it's urgent to learn to slow down". What do you think? I think that it's that type of state of mind that will allow you to find the answers to obstacles, adjust yourself and adapt to the situation - remotely.
Many of my coachees have developed the practice of implementing time blocks in their agenda for reflecting. Some do it in a structured way, and others don't. The only important thing is to give yourself time to think about your impact, your leadership, and your managing, to focus on the essence of your role and the added value you bring to your team, clients, and organization.
In our current frantic, hyperconnected, and multi-task-oriented climate, we do so many things at once, every day, without being really present and attentive. Remotely, it's beyond our control sometimes. We let ourselves be distracted by thinking that others don't notice.... we answer emails while being on the phone, we subtly (or not) answer text messages during a virtual meeting... let's be honest, without blaming ourselves but simply to let us become more conscious. We often have an attention and presence deficit – and that can transpire in your personal life as well.
Ironically, it's when we are present for others, ourselves and the team dynamic, that great ideas and solutions immerge. It's obvious that we don't have “watercooler” talk anymore, so how can we replicate those informal discussions (that are really vital without knowing it)... considering our worldwide situation? How do we develop the quality of our presence in front of others that allows us to feel close and connected?
To be myself in meeting with my team, either via Zoom or Teams, I'm realizing that when I'm fully present, I can feel the energy and notice the fruit of my presence. I can evaluate better and adapt my interventions with ease. When I have one-on-one meetings with clients or coachees, I can create trust, bonding, and collaboration with my notable presence. And by soliciting feedback, I can adjust myself to any situation.
It takes a conscious effort to be present and attentive. Turning off your notifications, taking deep breaths to center yourself before a meeting, putting your focus on a “one thing at a time” mantra, by listening, by establishing our goal with the planned meeting, and being aware that our spirit always wants to be a vagabond but we have to remember to put it in check - i.e. control it!
All that said, I'm asking you to notice the difference when you fully involve yourself with an honest presence and attention when you are managing in a group or individually.
What emerges? What does this attitude allow?
I strongly believe that answers and solutions to your remote managing issues are found in those reflection blocks and the quality of your presence that you intend to divulge. How will you allow yourself to do so? It's your job to figure out what is best for you and act on it!
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