Featured image depicting Covid-19: Five principles for managers leading remotely, and the first one is ‘there are no rules!’

Covid-19: Five principles for managers leading remotely, and the first one is ‘there are no rules!’

These five principles provide a helpful game plan for you and your team to stay engaged and connected while working virtually.

By JMJ  |  April 13, 2020

These are the “COVID-19 Five Principles for Remote Working and Effective Meeting Preparation,” which will provide you with a helpful game plan for you and your team to stay engaged and connected while working virtually.

Working remotely during these unprecedented times can bring multiple challenges from balancing work with raising and schooling your children, working in close proximity with your family members, navigating food shopping, meal planning and household chores—all the while, trying to stay safe and healthy as well as being aware of your different anxiety levels.

Five principles for remote working and effective meeting preparation:

  • There are no rules: We are in unprecedented times and people will be dealing with multiple challenges such as home-schooling, isolating. Increasingly we will see family members and colleagues being ill and dying. The standard ‘hygiene’ principles for remote working may or may not apply; we will need to learn collectively how to do this. The first rule of remote working during COVID-19 is there are no rules.
  • Micro-experiment: Most organizations complain that existing structures and meetings are less than effective. Remote working during COVID-19 offers the opportunity to try different things and learn how to become more efficient with meetings. Don’t assume you need to replicate the same meetings and attendees you had when you were office- based. Use this as the opportunity to work differently. Steer away from corporate top-down edicts and give teams room to conduct micro-experiments and learn. TIP: If you’re doing even more meetings… STOP and evaluate what you can do differently!
  • Decision making: We are in the midst of a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) time. COVID-19 and the financial implications have further highlighted this. Our instinctive response is to try to regain control and look to the past to make decisions. There is a danger of groupthink and making weak decisions. Guard against this. Spend more time enquiring into and framing the challenges you are facing. Challenge your assumptions and actively search for biases. Invite diverse voices and thinking into the decision-making process. This might feel counter-intuitive but will lead to better decision making.
  • Increase opportunities for human connection: both working remotely and the impacts of COVID-19 call for creating specific opportunities for human connection. Taking the time to do this will pay off in terms of increased focus when working. Our recommendation is to make this time an opportunity to hear and ‘give witness,’ rather than come up with solutions for people. Simply take the time to connect and find out how people are doing. Experiment with different formats: virtual coffee mornings, check in’s in meetings; small group huddles with no agenda, etc. Follow these two simple rules: 1) overcommunicate in terms of frequency and 2) under communicate in terms of density i.e. less info is better. Remember, the value of human connection is critical in times of such massive uncertainty.
  • Be kind and compassionate, starting with yourself. These are difficult times and for many, on top of COVID-19, the financial and economic implications add to the uncertainty. Uncertainty is always uncomfortable. Therefore, the value of kindness and compassion cannot be underplayed.

To prepare effectively for remote meetings/ gatherings/ huddles, ask the following four questions:

  1. What is the intention of the meeting/ gathering/ huddle?
    What is the intent or purpose? Is it really needed or are you simply doing it because you always have? Make sure you have some gatherings/ huddles with the sole intent to connect.
  2. How can we ensure good decision making? (if the meeting involves decisions)
    Does the agenda include diving deeply into the challenge and considering solutions/options carefully and expansively? hat are we doing to make sure we don’t simply do what we’ve always done?To guard against groupthink and bias, who needs to attend?
    Have we ensured there is cognitive diversity?
    Is everyone on the attendee list needed?
  3. What is our contingency plan if the group can’t make decisions?
    The likely projections are that many will be off work in the coming months, is the group clear on the contingency plans for making decisions and when these should kick in?
  4. How are we going to create a distinct opportunity for human connection?
    How will you intentionally create opportunities for human connection? What could you ask as a check-in? Do you need to create a separate huddle to do this? Are there any attendees who could benefit more with a 1:1 check in?

About JMJ

For over three decades, JMJ has been delivering impactful cultural change to help executives, leaders and front-line workers transform safety, sustainability, and business performance. We combine the deep experience of our people with our proprietary Transformation Cloud platform to deliver breakthrough results, making the impossible possible. www.jmj.com

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