Even as things reopen here in Minnesota, many organizations are planning to have employees work from home through the fall or the end of the year. And some even permanently. While many leaders say they feel working remotely has gone well, and that productivity is high, the pace of work may not be sustainable.
In a recent study by The Neuroleadeship Institute, out of 255 respondents, two-thirds report that they are operating at a pace of at least a run, with 28% in a sprint.
As a leader, it is critical that you set reasonable expectations and are clear with your team on what good looks like around those expectations. This need is heightened in a remote environment where you cannot “see” what your team is doing.
During my tenure at Best Buy, part of my role was to help my business groups evolve to a “Results Only Work Environment.” We told employees that they could work from anywhere, anytime, without risk of being chastised or questioned. Some leaders struggled because they felt they could not ask about the work. Others struggled with how to set measurable outcomes for support roles like Marketing, Finance or HR. In the end, the program failed due to the lack of alignment on the work that needed to be done for that week or month, in a way that leaders could hold employees accountable.
To be clear, I am not saying it was the leaders’ fault. Rather, it was a system failure in not providing them with the training they needed to work in this different way. The learning from this experience is that in that situation, and now in remote situations, we are asking our leaders to lead differently and need to provide them training and support.
I am a fan of treating adults like adults and trusting them to get their work done in the manner that works for them. But without clarity and alignment on what the work is, and even some of the how it’s done, our employees are doomed to fail. They cannot meet expectations that they are not aware of and may avoid deliverables that feel forced and unfair.
Don’t worry, this does not need to be an added task or meeting on either side. It can be done in your regularly scheduled 1:1s. Below are some questions that can start the conversation:
– What is your focus/work for the next few weeks? After listening to the reply, add your thoughts, “Here is what I would/add change…”
– What does a good outcome look like for this work? This does not need to be a quantitative measure and can describe elements of the work product and the timing. If you have assumptions or preferences as a leader, share those up front.
– What do you need from me?
– When and how do you prefer I check back on the status of this work? This is the accountability piece. It is clear you will check back and through this alignment, it enhances psychological safety for your employee that it will not be a surprise. If you prefer to set how and when you will check back, that is fine too. The key is to be clear up front.
If you and your team need help aligning around outcomes, send me an email. We can help you set a sustainable pace.