Me: Seriously? Again?
Better Me: Yes. You have to talk with them again.
Better Me: Because. You’re the boss.
Me: But I’m really busy. Can’t you see that? I’m freakin’ drowning over here!
Better Me: Do you really want to have that conversation now?
Me: Fine. I’ll start the call. You are really something.
Better Me: Thank you. You are too. I’m not sure what, but you are definitely something.
Me: Ok, that’s enough. I’m logging in to the VC. Quiet.
Me: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for calling in. Today we’ve got a lot of work to do. I need everyone to buckle down and keep on task today. And I don’t want to hear any complaining about the kids, or the dogs, or the spouses. We’re all super busy, but we all still have jobs. Be grateful for that.
Me: All right. Yesterday was a tough one. I know you’re all working hard and getting stuff done. And I look forward to seeing your work on Wednesday. Who wants to share any challenges?
Me: Anyone? C’mon. I want you to be vocal on these calls. I need to know what’s going on.
Me: Ok…I guess that means everyone is on target. Great! See you all on tomorrow’s call.
Me: Cool. Everyone seems to be on task. No complaints.
Better Me: Um, if that’s what you just experienced, you are seriously out of touch.
Me: What are you talking about? Nobody had any complaints and no challenges. No one said a word. Not news is good news.
Better Me: Do you really believe that? I mean, you weren’t exactly all “mister empathetic” to everyone’s new work situation. These people are all new to working remotely. Or “slacking off” as you like to call it.
Me: Please. Give me a break. I told them to share any challenges they had.
Better Me: Yeah, after you told them you didn’t want to hear any complaints. Did you really think anyone was going to say anything?
Me: You’re over-reacting.
Better Me: YOU’RE not leading your team. You’re just bossing them around.
Me: It’s hard trying to manage people from far away.
Better Me: And it’s just as hard trying to please YOU from far away.
Me: Well, what do you propose I do about that? I mean, really.
Better Me: How about you start by asking them to share how they are transitioning from the work office into their new “home office.” And really listen. In fact, you can start the conversation by telling everyone how you are transitioning. It hasn’t been easy, has it?
Me: No. It’s freakin’ hard. I can’t see anyone. I can’t stop by to check on them. I have NO idea if anyone is actually doing ANY work at all. I just don’t feel comfortable. Man, I hate this chair!
Better Me: And you think you are unique in this respect?
Me: Well, I suppose some people might be feeling some of those things too.
Better Me: Of course they are. They have to sit all day at their dining room table also. And their internet connection probably isn’t nearly as fast as at work. And some of them have kids and pets running around all day.
Me: I know, I know. I have to start thinking more about them and less about me.
Better Me: Well well well, look at the big brain on…er, me.
Me: Hmm. Interesting.
Better Me: Yeah, I read that article a few days ago.
Me: Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Wait? What? You read it…oh never mind.
Better Me: We both read it. You decided it was just a rehash of stuff you already know and ignored it. Meanwhile, I decided to keep it top of mind, ready to urge you to put these tips into actual use.
Me: You know, you are really beginning to annoy me. You always think you’re better than me.
Better Me: Do you mean, “better than I am?”
Me: Ugh. I can’t with you.
Better Me: Ok, I’ll behave. Now let’s look at some guidance from Financial Management online magazine.
Me: Why do you think that will help? I don’t run a Finance department. I run a Marketing team.
Better Me: We can learn from anyone anywhere. Let me give you the quick and dirty on the article. Says here you should be transparent, empathetic, and available.
Me: Go on.
Better Me: It says you need to be upfront with people. Tell them what is going on with the company…within reason, of course. You don’t have to share everything. Just give them a clear, honest appraisal of what is expected of them and what the company is doing to get things back to normal.
Me: Yeah, I haven’t been very clear about company directives. I just don’t want them to think about things to much and worry they might be out of work in a week or two.
Better Me: Don’t you think they already are thinking that right now? They just got their whole “normal” life turned upside down. They see their friends and family getting laid off. Trust me. They’re already worried about being “next.”
Me: Ok, you’re right. I’ll be sure to clarify what the company goals are for the foreseeable future. Tell me more.
Better Me: You also need to be more empathetic. That display you put on this morning was, how shall we say…about the worst I’ve ever seen.
Me: Hey! Cut me some slack. I’m under a lot of pressure. I told you this remote managing thing is hard.
Better Me: I know. I’m right here with you every step of the way. So let’s try to be more empathetic. All of your employees are going through the same troubles you are.
Me: Yeah, and I don’t have kids running around begging me for attention like some of them do.
Better Me: Yep. Express that to them. Let your folks know that you understand it may be challenging in their new environment trying to find a quiet space, managing the kids, and shifting tasks around to meet your goals.
Me: I guess I can show more understanding. I really do care about them. They are all really good people. I appreciate them so much right now.
Better Me: Tell them that!
Me: I don’t want to look like a softy. I need to show I’m strong and in control during a crisis.
Better Me: What the heck just happened? We were making such good progress.
Me: I know, I know. I can show them I care.
Me: All right! I WILL show them I care.
Better Me: Ok, I trust you. A good way to show them you care, is to be more available for them.
Me: You mean, like with Zoom or Skype or Slack or MS Teams?
Better Me: Exactly.
Me: Maybe I could set up times for “water-cooler” breaks? We could do a break at 11am and 3pm just fifteen minutes to chat about what it’s like working from home. We could do a “show and tell” with pets, kids, favorite hobbies, artwork in their homes. What do you think?
Better Me: I like it.
Me: Oh, man, it’s 4:48. Gotta get ready for our 5:00 daily wrap up call.
Better Me: Ok, just remember to be more transparent, more empathetic, and more available. And tell them about your new “water-cooler” idea. I think they’ll like it.
Me: Will do, Better Me. Thanks for the guidance and the encouragement to be a better me.
Better Me: While he’s on the call with his employees, here’s a little something I put together for you, dear reader. Download this quick guide on remote managing. It’s short, sweet, and pretty to look at.
Better Me: Oh, and here’s one for your employees. You can use it too.
Point to ponder: See all the good that happens while working and managing remotely. Celebrate it and keep using these same techniques once you’re all back in the office. Be transparent, empathetic, and available. The results may astound you.
Note: And since it seems remote work is here to stay, here’s another great resource to help you manage your remote teams. https://creately.com/blog/business/managing-remote-employees/