Wednesday | 22 April | 2020
By Anja van den Berg
The COVID-19 lockdown dictated a swift and sudden shift to working from home. As a manager, your primary concern is removing as many barriers to forward momentum as possible. Here’s how you can empower your team to perform at their best during the unprecedented national lockdown.
- Check-in personally and offer support
Check-in with your team with a clear objective to support, not to micromanage. Ask questions like: ‘Is there anything I can do to help you today?’, ‘Is there anything pressing you’d like advice on?’, and ‘How are you coping with work and family responsibilities rolled into one?’. Let them know that you are always available if they need you, but also proactively manage the frequency of connection.
- Provide stability through rituals
Rituals provide structure in a situation which is riddled with uncertainty. You can equip your team to manage the current unpredictable situation by containing it within structured routines whenever feasible. By creating a predictable ritual and leading by example, managers can foster a sense of connection, safety, and fun, buffering their team from the forces of change.
- Give your team decision-making power
Give employees generous boundaries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, parameters don’t restrict team members; they empower them. Define the lines within which an employee can make his or her own decisions. In doing so, you give them the freedom to act.
If you’ve managed to hire the right people, you should already know that they’re qualified and have the skills required to do their work. Thus, whether they will make the right decisions shouldn’t be a concern. What you should make sure of, though, is that you’ve provided your team with the right tools and mindset of communicating efficiently while managing themselves.
Handling the COVID-19 lockdown will distil true leaders from less competent managers. The best leaders will inspire outstanding performance, mainly because authentic leadership equals empowering others. Empowerment, in turn, cultivates self-motivation and perseverance. As Ralph Nader says, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/02/lead-your-business-through-the-coronavirus-crisis
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-managers-can-support-remote-employees
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-keep-your-team-motivated-remotely
* All information was correct at the time of publication.