As we move into the eighth week of lock-down, conversations with contacts, colleagues, friends and family are starting to include reflections on the differing experiences of working remotely. An emerging and reoccurring theme in these interactions is around the approaches being taken by line managers, and more particularly management styles and communication.
Many of us are aware of differing management styles, a staple of most management and leadership courses. However, it is interesting to note how different styles are translating in the current environment, particularly as we enter a ‘new norm’.
While more directive styles may have been effective during the initial rapid response, its continued use can easily be perceived as micro-management with potential impacts on feelings of competence and trust, particularly for those that are new to remote working.
More ‘pacesetting’ management styles run the risk of not ensuring that everyone is understanding the direction of travel, colleagues becoming overloaded or failing to take account of the varying and potentially difficult circumstances for individuals. However, a lack of pace and decisiveness can also leave remote colleagues feeling adrift and unsupported.
The link with communication is key. Managers producing constant streams of emails, or overuse of virtual meetings on platforms such as Teams and Zoom seem to be common emerging themes.
We need to be aware that in these times of change and pressure the insecurities and concerns of managers can consciously and subconsciously affect their approaches too.
What can we learn from this?
Well, now more than ever it is important for managers to recognise their management and communication styles. Not always easy during a period of rapid change. We need to find the balance of tailoring to the changing situation, while also giving a level of consistency to colleagues.
As organisations, we need to ensure managers are equipped and enabled to do this and, more importantly be ready to listen openly to colleague feedback on what is and isn’t working.
Overall, the biggest challenge, regardless of style or communication method, is ensuring that the manager / colleague relationship maintains that human touch. None of us are robots, regardless of the fantastic tech we are relying on.