NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

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5 Leadership Hacks For The Most Common WFH (Work From Home) Challenges

August 18, 2020

In this blog post I share 5 leadership hacks for the most common WFH (work from home) challenges.

On a recent Zoom call with a CEO we discussed the things keeping her and her leaders up at night during the pandemic.
The challenges that her and her leaders were dealing with were pretty much identical to recent survey responses we had gathered from hundreds of leaders.

The challenges that many leaders are facing right now are all about people and adapting to the work from home reality.

Some of the work from home challenges leaders are facing right now include:

In response to the above challenges here are 5 leadership hacks for the most common work from home challenges:

  1. Look for people to hire in non traditional places. Finding great people to hire during Covid can prove to be a challenge. However you can also take advantage of current disruptions to find the right people. If you are willing to train and develop people consider looking for workers who have worked in different industries than yours. For example a financial client recently hired someone from the beauty industry based on her customer service record and the client was thrilled with the workers ability to bring innovative client solutions to the table. The work from home reality increases the opportunity to hire other abled workers as well. Research businesses who have had to lay off workers and seek to add them to your team. For example, Amazon hired workers from the restaurant industry during major shutdown period.
  2. Shift perspective to see training workers as an opportunity rather than an obligation. In the past training workers was seen as onerous or more work. Today and in the future training workers is a strategic and competitive advantage. In the past training workers was done by one or two leaders, today and in the future training requires a team approach. Virtual training via video conferencing is very effective when aligned with a fully fleshed out development plan. A client we are working with created a spreadsheet of training schedule along with ‘who would be training what’ along with regular learning check ins. They had a new worker fully trained in three months and he is now set up to be a fully contributing team member.
  3. Give feedback that is effective and creates behavior change. In addition to being willing to train leaders need to increase the ability to give effective feedback that creates behavior change. How? In a remote work reality technology has been leveraged to track worker performance. Technology can report how many calls a worker is making, how much time is spent with clients, how much work is getting done and more. This means that there is real time data that can help a leader know a workers productivity. What cannot be tracked (yet) is worker attitude, engagement or team contribution. Feedback needs to be specific and fact based with a high dose of empathy and care. In addition the feedback needs to provide clear expectations of what you want to see change as well as a time frame. For example, a client had a worker who was struggling with remote work and once he was given clear feedback on performance and expectations he was able to shift and make sustainable behavior change.
  4. Truth and openness regarding budgetary cuts. Let’s face it budget constraints were a pre Covid reality. Since Covid the real financial challenges have made it so that workers are on constant alert about their own future and the future of the business/industry they work in. When it comes to financial reality the truth is always best (to the level that you are able to share details). Letting workers know that there are reduced budgets is difficult however it can also increase innovative ideas on how to leverage resources.
  5. Deal with poor performance with a people first approach. It can be very frustrating when workers do not follow through on work that is required for the business to move forward. In a survey of over three hundred leader over 90% stated that they are dealing with workers with declining performance since Covid began. Some workers have thrived with the remote/work from home reality while others have struggled. What we have noted is that the workers who are struggling or those who are really missing face to face interactions. Also the workers who have multiple distractions at home such as children. The important factor is to think through the multiple factors that may be impacting a workers performance. Most workers know when they are not being successful in their work obligations. Having meaningful dialogue about how to deal with the workers challenges can help shift into creative solutions. If after many discussions, support and performance challenges it may be that the worker is not suited for the role that he or she is in. Recently we worked with a client where they had to make the difficult decision to help a worker move on to something else based on the workers inability to adapt even after much support, guidance and coaching. Leaders need to leverage the resources available for workers such as employee assistance to provide counselling or additional mental well being support.

The future requires leaders to be more compassionate, creative, empathetic and communicative than ever before. To be successful there needs to be a focus on helping people be successful. In the past many leaders let their workers sink or swim. In today’s reality and in the future we need to value people as human beings and do everything we can to help them succeed and win. The future is about ‘we’.