How to create strong business cultures for remote workers during the coronavirus crisis.
Written by Emily Shaw, Director, Making Decent Money
As businesses suddenly move to remote working, it’s easy to ignore business culture as crisis management takes hold. But the truth is that… now is when culture matters the most. Research shows that when people work in a positive culture, performance on nearly every level improves – productivity, creativity, engagement, problem solving. Turns out optimism is the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success. So it’s probably best that you pay attention to your culture, especially in times of crisis. As leaders, you may have to ask more from your teams in difficult circumstances. So here is some advice on maintaining a happy, high-performing team and building resilience for the future. It might not all be relevant, but please use what you can and share it with every leader you know…
If you only do one thing... communicate with your team EVERY. DAY.
Have daily team meetings
Get everyone together every day on a call or video conference to maintain a sense of team spirit. If timings are difficult, offer two alternative times each day. It only needs to be 15 minutes, which is a relatively small investment of time for you. Be positive during the meetings. Positivity is contagious (sorry, poor choice of words) but so is negativity. Role model a healthy attitude.
Check in with people individually too
Get comfortable asking people how their mental and emotional health is.
Social isolation ain’t that good for most of us so make sure people have an opportunity to talk to someone. Encourage video conferencing / face time etc where possible rather than emails or calls and make sure people go outside, have virtual coffees with each other and stay connected.
Use technology to bring people together
Use whatever works for your team to connect with people on a daily basis. Some options will work and some won’t but be willing to try them out and see - get ready for some teething problems and utilise online tutorials.
Three things to do now to keep your culture alive
1. Set the Scene
Articulate your company purpose
Remind people why they do what they do and what they are all trying to achieve together. Talk about why your company was set up in the first place (the reason can’t be to make money). Remind people of the impact they have on the lives of your customers.
Make sure everyone in your team is clear on what they need to do. Be flexible and focus on outcomes, not activities. Task lists, shared calendars and frequent communication will help with this.
2. Eat, sleep, values, repeat
Put your core values to work. These are your DNA. A set of instructions that determine the character of the business, how people treat each other and capture what’s great about the business. This is even more important when your team is working remotely. Your values should drive decision making, relationship building, problem solving and even your products and procedures.
Articulate your existing values and make sure everyone lives by them. Reward people who demonstrate this and discuss examples in your daily team meetings:
- We support each other
- We look for opportunities to do our best
- We have pride in our brand
- We see opportunities, not problems
- We don’t believe there is just one way to do things
- We put people before outcomes
- We are a community
- We always act with kindness
3. Bring everything to the table
When people work remotely, it’s easy for issues to go under the radar and for people to avoid giving feedback or having difficult conversations. This means low trust, low productivity, high attrition, poor decision making... and it’s all reflected in the bottom line.
As a leader, you must create an environment where it is safe to bring everything to the table, where people can put their hand up and admit a mistake, have healthy disagreements, discuss a mental health issue, ask for help, or admit they are struggling.
Encourage people to have honest conversations. Tell them that is what you expect and use the pointers below to help them do that in a healthy way. Role model good behaviour.
Don’t react badly when you are given difficult news, even if you want to. If someone has made a mistake or something has gone wrong, be open, calm and curious. Create a safe environment where your team can admit their mistake, knowing you will work together to recitify the situation.
Ask for feedback and ideas and actually listen to what people say. When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. If you listen, you might learn something.
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