22 Jul 2020

Five Questions Every Manager Should Be Asking Now

We’re four months into our new work from home reality, with no clear end in sight.  Our employees are exhausted, distracted, overwhelmed by uncertainty and anxiety about what the future holds.   Management skills have been tested as we’ve all been thrust into a new work paradigm with little warning or time to prepare.  A new management play book is being written on a daily basis as we react and respond to our rapidly changing environment.  During this time, the role of manager has never been more important.

In a recent conversation with a client, I shared that it’s time to get back to basics when it comes to managing. During the best of times, managing well requires a high level of attention to the needs of your team.  In times of uncertainty and change, this is even more critical. The true testament of a manager’s skill is the ability to effectively support your team members now.  While your management style may not have included regular one-on-one check-ins and more informal conversations, now is the time to reach out and connect with all of your team members on a regular basis.  A recent Harvard Business Review survey during the time of COVID revealed that greater than 40% surveyed want their managers to check in with them.  Employees want to be asked.

Frequent check-ins reduce the feeling of isolation experienced through this period of remote work and enable you to assess how your team members are doing.  These five questions when posed together demonstrate that you are genuinely asking, “How can I support you?”:

  1. What is working? Your opportunity to hear what’s going well.
  2. What have you learned from working in this new way? Your opportunity to celebrate wins.
  3. What have you missed while working in this new way? Your opportunity to acknowledge sense of loss.
  4. What worries you now? Your opportunity to build connection and trust.
  5. What is on your mind when you think about returning to your pre-Covid work space? Your opportunity to surface concerns and to problem-solve.

Remember, your role in asking is to be a good listener.  Listen attentively for their fears and concerns and offer solutions and support to ease their anxiety.  We are all being tested, but when we emerge from this period, how will you and your team look back on this time?  Will you have demonstrated incredible empathy, support and fostered resilience? Will your team emerge a stronger team, knowing that together you successfully navigated these challenging times?

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