Once we return to work one of the first priorities to address is that of your team. Team members have for many months been separated physically (though not necessarily visibly) and this promotes a decrease in incidental communication and socialisation, breeding potential for miscommunication and misinformation and thus for hidden or explicit disruptions in continuity.
Ordinarily you would have oversight of issues that may present in the team and be able to address them sooner rather than later. You can see your team, sense if there is any consternation, pick up on any dissatisfaction, hear someone complaining to someone else and know if someone is stressed or under pressure.
What steps will you take when everyone is back? For a start, team productivity should not be your first agenda item! Here are a few pointers to re-engage your team:
1. Ensure your team is ‘healthy’. Ask how they are faring and if there is any support they might need.
2. Make sure your team are on the same page. Are we all going in the same direction as we were before we had to work from home?
3. Ask some questions that will build trust and good will. Some examples might be:
- What has everyone learned from working from home?
- How can this be implemented to improve our team?
- What are the things we should build on?
- What is the best thing I can do for you right now?
4. Establish a plan for the team for the next 3-6 months. Provide them with some predictability and stability.
5. Be visible and present as much as you can. Your team will still be looking for you to lead.
6. Be transparent with information – if you don’t know an answer to a question – don’t guess – best to say “I don’t know – I will get back to you once I have information on this”.
As a leader in the business, ensuring your team is functioning as best as possible from a ‘health’ perspective is paramount. Productivity will then look after itself!