In a recent webinar I presented, 71% of managers said the most challenging part of the Covid-19 crisis, was not REALLY knowing how their employees are going at home. When pressed further, one person commented that although they saw their people via Zoom most days, they had no idea what was going on beyond this. Every person is unique, every household is unique.
There are 5 questions every manager can ask in their weekly one on one Zoom meeting (video helps with observing body language and eye contact) to help address this:
- R U OK? – this should be asked with empathy. Keep asking open ended questions about them and how they are finding working from home. Are they finding it lonely? Do they miss the comradery with their colleagues? How is it going being with their partner/children 24/7? If they admit a problem – help them brainstorm some solutions. Showing you care matters most.
- Are other teammates OK? – Not everyone will feel comfortable telling their manager how they are really feeling, but they may tell a trusted colleague. This question helps flag a potential issue you may not be aware of. If something is raised by this person, they will be a good person to ask more about the problem, and possible solutions.
- What is your #1 goal this week – There is currently a huge amount of isolation and uncertainty. Helping your team member identify their #1 goal for the week ahead is very beneficial for you and for them. This helps them focus on what they can control.
- Are there any impediments to your #1 goal – This helps them – and you – think through possible obstacles. The science of goal setting tells us that people are more likely to achieve their goal, if they think about what the impediments that may come up in advance – and how they will address them.
- How can I help make this a better week for you? – This forces the team member to identify how you can best assist. It could for example, mean taking something off their plate if they are overwhelmed. It may be to provide advice on a certain issue. It shows you care to ask the question.
It is not a manager’s job to solve every problem for their team. It is preferable to keep asking them questions until they identify the best option for themselves. Having said that, these are extraordinary times and many people are experiencing overwhelm and mental health issues.
You may also consider providing self-care and crew care webinars to your WFH employees to provide them with practical solutions to apply each day.