Recently, the topic of when and how to return to the office has been at the forefront of my conversations. Some leaders are asking themselves if this is the time to downsize their leasing footprint and move to a more virtual workforce. While we have learned a lot about working remotely, there is more to think about when considering it as a permanent move. Understanding the competencies and underlying personality traits that are important to remote work can help you assess if it is right for your workforce.
- relationship building
As we have highlighted in recent blogs, at TBG we strongly believe it is not enough to consider leadership competencies alone. We also consider the underlying personality characteristics that fuel, or deflate, success in these competencies. In other words, how well employees act on the competencies is rooted in a number of different personality characteristics and values. For those who would likely adapt well to remote work, personality characteristics such as the ability to handle stress, resiliency, open-mindedness, drive, a level of attention to detail/organization, social ability, and empathy are natural parts of who they are.
Read on for more specifics related to each competency and the underlying personality traits and behaviors.
The leadership competency of self-management is about someone’s motivation, attitude, and self-control. It manifests in behaviors around building organizational systems, managing the pace of work, and defining work/life boundaries. I am hearing a lot recently about burnout due to the struggle to manage work/life boundaries. People report feeling that there is so much to do, and, given a lot of social events are cancelled, there is not the same pull from our social lives to end the workday. Don’t underestimate the impact of this! Reach out to your highly ambitious employees to inquire about their balance. Those who do well around self-management tend to be more adaptable, have a higher level of ambition/proactivity, and are generally more structured. Those who are highly distrustful and easily excited or distracted may struggle more.
Effective communication involves proactivity and purposefulness and the ability to build trust through conversation. This competency is critical to ensuring people are clear on what the team is doing and how well the team is working together. Those with good social ability tend to excel more in this competency, with the caveat that they have an appropriate level of empathy and ability to read others. Those who like to be the center of attention and who are not good at listening may not see that people are shutting down or being turned off by their behavior.
With the additional level of autonomy in remote work, the need for dependability is enhanced. Reliability, consistency, and timeliness is vital. This includes the ability to keep others in the loop. Again, a level of resiliency, adaptability, and attention to detail underlie this competency. Those who tend to have many big ideas and are big picture thinkers or those who are easily distractible may struggle without the structure and routine office environments provide. This is not to say they cannot thrive in a remote environment, but different support structures will enhance their effectiveness.
The need for flexibility has skyrocketed due to the pandemic. We have asked people to change directions and adapt to new ways of doing things. This need will continue in a remote environment. Those who are able to flex naturally and adapt well to change will thrive. Those who mistrust others and are unsettled by change or ambiguity may struggle.
The last competency highlighted by Hogan around relationship building will take more effort in a remote environment. Specifically, it will require more proactivity and intentionality across the team. There can be feelings of isolation that arise in remote situations. If it is not showing up now, it may show up later when those whose kids/spouses who are at home now return to school and work. Those who are reserved, introverted, and do not react well to pressure and stress may struggle in this area. Help them identify their key stakeholders and set up communication rhythms. Consider those stakeholders or teams that they may need to engage with in new ways.
To assess your team in these competencies, ask individuals where they are finding success now, what is difficult for them currently and what is keeping them motivated/engaged. Offer to help them in the areas where they are struggling and continue to check in with them. This will require leaders to be more proactive and intentional in their communication! If you are not sure how to help your team, I am happy to talk, just send me an email!