Boosting performance remotely

While the coronavirus outbreak is causing great concern across the world, it is also the tipping point when the UK finally makes remote working a reality for the majority. From our experience, this is an opportunity for organisations to use remote working to bring real and tangible benefits for employees and their wellbeing, and to maintain and even improve organisational performance.

While remote working is increasingly common, it is typically used by middle to senior leaders or where managers have visibility of their employee’s outputs. It is far less common to allow remote working for more junior employees. With an uncertain few months ahead, many companies are embracing remote working at all levels. Making it a strategic priority, giving people the confidence, consistency and continuation they need will help everyone perform at their best.

Those who are regularly using video conferencing tools and online platforms are a step ahead, the focus will be more on a strategic re-set; others may need to invest in more equipment to enable home working. For some however, enforced remote working poses a real threat to performance as it exposes an underinvestment in the technology, infrastructure and attitudes required that drive remote working. Big questions need to be answered by organisational leaders.

  • How quickly, and at what cost, can conferencing and online facilities be scaled up?
  • Will the servers withstand everyone being online?
  • How can managers ensure their teams are ready, with the right priorities, attitudes and resources, to make working from home a benefit to themselves and to performance?

In the short-term, disruption and impact can be kept to a minimum if people managers have just two clear objectives in mind. These will provide a sound foundation to build on

  1. Supporting your people to be purposeful in their work
  2. Supporting your people to foster healthy relationships

Purposeful Work

There is plenty of research to tell us that when we work with purpose, we are more motivated and productive.

  • Help your team by making sure they are clear on the necessary outcomes of their work
    • What outcome do they need to achieve by the end of the week, fortnight, month?
    • What will good look like?
    • How will you both know when they have achieved it?
  • Use coaching questions to explore possibilities and avoid making assumptions
    • How clear are they on the outcomes?
    • What additional support or resources do they need?
    • Who else do they need to connect with to achieve their outcomes?
  • Make sure all conference calls/phone calls are purposeful. Use our 4P framework to help
    • Prepare: only invite those necessary for the purpose, read the agenda and come with ideas, keep information to the point
    • Purpose: share the purpose of the meeting in advance, keep the agenda focused on achieving the purpose
    • Process: keep the call short, make sure to start and finish on time, be clear who is chairing it and describe the steps you will take to achieve the purpose
    • Pay-off: be clear on the outcomes of the call and review at the end, finish with clear actions, owners and timescales

Healthy Relationships

The working environment forces most of us to connect and communicate – even when we don’t want to. Some of your team may live on their own and rely on their work colleagues for regular interaction and connection, it may be their only community. This connectivity is a critical component in enabling high performance, more of which to come in future blogs. In the meantime, consider implementing the following initiatives

  • Have video calls purely with the purpose of checking in on the relationship eg Skype tea-breaks – how are we? Do we need to work differently? Any concerns? What are you/we most proud of?
  • Remember that everyone has different preferences; tailor your approach so it responds to the different needs of your team members – some people will thrive working from home, others may struggle with lack of contact or managing the complexities of trickier home-lives
    • Check-in with how frequently they want to be in touch
    • Explore how they think they will work most effectively
    • What are their concerns and fears?
    • How will they flag these if they start to arise?
  • Challenge others and yourself about who you’re choosing to pick up the phone to – is it who you feel most comfortable with? Or who you really need to connect with to achieve performance?

Most of us will be on very new territory in the coming weeks. These tips will help you move into a virtual world with more ease and success.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more insights and practical tips to help use this ‘new normal’ as a way to shift your culture and find new ways to sustain performance.

To discuss your cultural or performance challenges and discover new ways to get the best out of your people in unusual and uncertain circumstances, call us on 01280 824 508 or get in touch.

Feature Image: Freddy Castro, unsplash.com

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