Moving from Office Management to at home Self-Management
As we move into our own personal home space to work from, we are effectively moving from being micro-managed – where your manager physically observes you throughout the day to check on what you are working on; to being self-managed – having to motivate ourselves, still work together (but now from a distance) as well as trying to justify or prove that we are actually working at our jobs while we are at home.
This change from micro-management to self-management can be challenging for all parties involved. As a manager and as an employee.
For a start, if you are both now working from your home and using video conferencing, it might feel weird having your boss in your living room, and equally weird for your boss to have you in their living room! This might feel unnatural and might initially feel as though your personal space is being violated!
I am very comfortable letting you know that I have definitely had managers throughout my career that I would never have had over to my home; managers that I was very happy not to see throughout my work day let alone in my home! On the other hand, I have had managers that have been more like friends that I have had over to my home before.
For the best part of 10 years, I personally worked remotely and reported into managers both nationally and internationally. To help me adjust to self-management, I put some key strategies and tools in place that supported me through this and worked extremely well.
In this article I will provide you with 10 insights and strategies to help you navigate this new experience so that you can make this transition from micro-management to self-management successful for all parties.
I will also provide you with the two tools that made my every day self-management life so much more effective and productive.
10 Ways to move from Micro-management to Self-management
1. Demonstrate empathy, understanding and patience.
This may seem very basic, however it is a reminder that we are all in this together.
This has not been our planned, thought out choice, it has been a reactive decision so that we can keep our businesses afloat and our people safe and healthy.
- Have empathy toward others.
- We are all going through similar low vibration emotions such as stress, anxiety, fear, grief, frustration and worry.
- Be more understanding of each other.
- We are all incredibly unique human beings; receiving and processing new information in our own different and individual ways.
- Just know that some people will take flight with this new lifestyle effortlessly while others take much longer to adapt and may need a bit more support and time.
- Be patient with yourself first and then be patient with those around you.
- You can choose to make this process hard or you can choose to make it simple. (Note that I used the word simple here – not easy!)
- Patience can also be interpreted as “tolerance” if this word works better for you.
We need to be supporting each other and accepting that we are all in this together.
It might also be handy to adopt the attitude of “no team member left behind.”
Be gentle on yourself and be the best example to others by adopting empathy, understanding and patience with all the people you work with.
2. Continue to build and maintain rapport.
As an NLP practitioner, one of the fundamental skills is to build effective rapport with clients and to build it fast! Remember, we don’t need to be besties with someone to have rapport with them.
Even though we are not physically with our team mates, there are still ways to build rapport.
- On the phone? Check your tone, pitch and pace.
- On Video? Check your tone, pitch and pace as well as your body language!
- Also consider the words you are using over the phone and via video.
- Are they being reciprocated by other people?
- Is the other person engaged and responding or just silent?
- Remember to be professional.
- Being in your home might make you feel more relaxed and your words, tome, pitch and pace may reflect this and be misinterpreted.
You can still match, match lead as well as mirror others while you are on the phone which will lead to effective rapport building.
To understand rapport building skills in more detail, you can access my published article to here: “Dissolve Conflict - Build Rapport"
3. Continue to develop and inspire TRUST.
Many companies have Trust and Integrity built into their values. We want customers to trust our brand. We want to demonstrate that our brand is integral.
Well the truth of this is that these Values start with you! Trust yourself and trust your team! You’ve got this! They’ve got this! We are all in this together.
Trust can take time to establish but hey! You work in an office with these people already so build on the trust that is already established.
- Building rapport develops trust.
- If you say you will do something – do it. Demonstrate it. Actions speak louder than words.
- Be honest. If you say you are going to do something and you are unable to deliver, let others know. Be open and honest so that other people can understand.
- Know that trust is EARNED. You cannot demand it.
- Value the people you work with.
- It’s okay to take time to make decisions. Let people know you are taking time to make the decision so that they feel included.
- Trust in your team. Trust that they will be productive, trust that they want their job, trust that they will apply themselves while working from home.
Trust is going to be vital as we work from home. It is also important to note that it can be very easy to break this trust as well. Be honest with each other. Believe that you can be trusted and demonstrate this to the people around you.
I felt that respect was an important point to have on its own as there are multiple ways we can demonstrate this. As stated above, working from your home can make you relax some of your professionalism. You know what I mean – I don’t swear at work but I do at home kinda thing. Our home is a safe place where we can act however we want to. Now that we are working from home, this may change slightly!
- First of all, respect yourself. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, drink plenty of water, practice good hygiene and be kind to yourself.
- Demonstrate good listening and questioning skills with each other.
- Dress appropriately while on video calls – I am really not going to go into detail with this. I will just say, if you would not wear it to the office, do not wear it on video calls.
- Please be mindful of what people might see in your background while you are on a video call. For example, you might want to remove your G’string bunting and tally of beer cans off the wall behind you or put up a screen behind you so that people can’t see your collection of porn or your messy room. It might also be insightful not to have expensive items you own on display in the background – do you really want to show the world your $10,000 guitar that is in your home? Respect that even though you love this stuff, you will be on a work call and others may be offended or worse still – judge you. Respect each other.
- Be willing to change. When you demonstrate your willingness to change, this creates respect.
- Let go of anger and frustration - or at least do not take out anger on the people around you. Find an outlet for this like exercising on your balcony or focusing on your breathing.
You have respect for each other in the work place, now it is transferring this to your at home work space. Continue to have respect for yourself and for each other.
Also know that eventually we will return to the work place. Together.
Treat each other from a distance, the same as you would treat each other with respect while together in an office space.
Not sure how to set up your home space? You will find more details on how to go about this with hints, tips and suggestions here on “Working from Home”
5. Open and effective communication
Open and effective communication does not mean being on the phone every other 5 minutes to each other to check on progress! Here are some ways to engage in open and effective communication while self-managing and working from home.
- Schedule phone meetings with each other. This is also good for time management.
- Be available to each other at specific times. Not a formal meeting, but a chat or a catch up.
- Remember, people are not at an office desk, they are at home.
- You can set expectations around this with each other.
- Another way to organise this is to send a text first to see if it is a good time to catch up with the other person.
- Clear and regular e-mail communication – this one we should all be okay with.
- Do be understanding and patient. We are all now working off home internet plans and things may be a little slower.
- Also, some people will have children at home having meltdowns they need to manage or interrupting them. Be understanding of this current arrangement.
- Video conferencing. Once a week at least if you can.
- Have a video conference with your people either as a team or 1:1 with staff.
- This is as good as being face to face and will help people to feel connected.
- Find your voice. This is going to be super important while we are all working in isolation.
- You have to speak up.
- Managers will not be in front of you reading your body language, so find the words and use your voice.
- If something isn’t working for you, share this. If something is working really well for you, share this!
- None of us are mind readers. Share your thoughts!
- Virtual team meetings. These can be phone or video conference.
- Staying connected as a team will also ensure that people feel connected.
- I have been in some pretty funny phone conferences as well as really boring ones. Please make these productive, useful and fun!
- Ask questions. Ask lots of questions.
- Ask enough questions and then some so that you know exactly where you are headed to and what you are responsible for.
- Also ask questions about other people. When you are remote, open questions work better to engage people. Care about others and ask them open questions to check in with them and see how they are.
- Stay on point.
- So you thought this was an issue in the office already where people got off track or didn’t stay on point? You are in for a treat working remotely! This tends to become even worse!!
- People are way more easily distracted when in their own environment. Please try and stay on point!
- If you notice others going off track, gently bring them back. It will be way more productive and less frustrating for everyone.
- Have an agenda or what outcomes you want from the communication so that you can make sure you have covered off all points.
You are perhaps already an effective communicator in your place of work. Being remote and self-managing, we need to be even more open with our communication so that we feel like we are being heard and to know that we are not alone during this time.
6. Documented expectations
One thing that has served me well throughout my corporate career is asking for things in writing. It’s all well and good to tell someone what needs to happen, what they are responsible for and even what a manager’s expectations are. When verbal, this can easily be miss interpreted or forgotten.
It will be very helpful to everyone if clear expectations are written down so that they can be referred back to.
- This provides people with very clear direction and guidelines.
- People can refer back to these expectations if they are in doubt or start getting off track.
- It makes people feel safe when they know what is expected of them.
- When setting work expectations out, please be realistic about time frames and take the current situation into account. Things may take a little longer than if we were in the office with no distractions.
- We all perceive and process information differently.
- Some people process information super- fast and act quickly while other people process information methodically and are more reflective – they need time to digest information and think about it.
- Having documented expectations will get through to fast and methodical processing people!
- You also might consider taking minutes at meetings and then circulate them afterwards so everyone is clear on what was covered.
Setting clear intentions and expectations (guidelines) for everyone leaves no room for “he said, she said”. This needs to be minimised as much as possible while working from home and documenting expectations really supports people.
“The act of working with someone to create something.”
Collaboration is even more important while working from a distance. People need to feel engaged and a part of the team; that they are contributing and valued.
Some ways to increase collaboration while working from home include:
- Listen more to each other. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in this proportion.
- Give people space to talk.
- During phone catch up, video calls etc. give people time and space to talk. Not everyone will find this easy.
- Some people are camera shy and may find it harder to talk. Give them space.
- Ask individuals an open question and then pause, allow them time to answer before you jump in or move on.
- Use effective technology and tools.
- Work with each other to set up systems that will work for you.
- Think outside the square and be prepared to embrace new ways of doing things to collaborate more effectively.
- Establish team goals! Give the team something to work towards together.
- These goals do not need to be all “task” orientated, have some fun with this.
- Google some fun team activities that you can do. This can bring the team together in a dynamic way.
- Leverage team member strengths.
- Know what the strengths are in your team and work with this.
- I will add here that it is also important to share the work load and continue to upskill your staff. Just because someone’s strength is a spreadsheet doesn’t mean that’s all they should be doing!
- Maybe a team member does not have spreadsheet skills, so pair them up with the expert and have them coach each other.
- Encourage innovation with individuals and within the team. There are always multiple ways of actioning things and you may discover a more dynamic method together!
Collaboration is an important aspect of any business, company and team.
Throughout this time, it will be important to get creative to look at ways you can maintain this together.
Great collaboration now will make you stronger as a team when we return to our offices.
8. Transparency in self-management plus the two tools I created.
Being transparent is often talked about in businesses; making sure that everyone is on the same page, knowing where everyone is at and where all projects / tasks are up to. This is what keeps the ship running smoothly.
But how can this work when we are not with each other? How do we have transparency? Management need to become more transparent and team members (employees) also need to become more transparent.
Working from home, you will no longer have your manager looking over your shoulder, so what can you do to show what you are doing?
One of the best ways to have transparency is to document what you have actioned.
- Working remotely for a number of years, I developed a weekly action template where I was able to input all of the tasks that I had actioned and the amount of time spent on each task.
- I would send this detail through to my managers at the end of the week.
- This gave me complete accountability and clarity on my productivity and performance.
- My managers had a very transparent view of my actions.
- So this tool comes to you trialled, tested and highly recommended.
- I created a second spreadsheet for me to map and track all of my tasks and meetings over a 3 month period.
- This helped me to see in a snap shot where all projects and tasks were up to and it also saved me from missing or overlooking meetings with key stakeholders.
- This spreadsheet worked better for me than using my electronic calendar.
- It became so transparent and effective it was adopted by our whole national team.
Track what you have been doing each day so that your manager has visibility.
This can help your manager to share workloads, re-direct your work and more importantly, it gives you a document to reflect back on when it comes time to do your performance review in the distant future. It will be your responsibility to be transparent.
9. Feedback –positive reinforcement and recognition.
So this may also seem obvious as feedback is an integral part of operating any business.
People need to feel valued and they also need to receive feedback. This will be even more important when you working from home.
Make sure feedback is on the agenda every day.
- This can be written
- You might send an e-mail or create certificates or awards that can be sent virtually throughout the team.
- When it is in writing it looks more official and makes people feel even more valued. Plus, people have something that they can refer back to and look at to help boost their esteem and confidence when they are feeling low.
Verbal feedback is also great.
- You can do this over the phone as well as via video.
- Do it more often!
- Some feedback also needs to be constructive.
- There are different feedback delivery models that you can use for this such as STAR/AR and What, What, Why (2 that come to mind).
- Delivering good, constructive feedback is about maintaining the person’s self-esteem. Providing feedback around a behaviour or task and not the person themselves.
- Some constructive feedback is appropriate to put into an e-mail, like when you are giving feedback about a spreadsheet. Etc.
- When it is constructive feedback for an individual’s behaviour, please ensure this is done by video at every opportunity. It helps to maintain self-esteem for the recipient and their reactions can be gauged.
People feel valued and recognised when you provide feedback and recognition.
When giving positive feedback and recognition, always mean it. Don’t just do it because you are ticking a box. Via phone / video in particular, use a genuine tone, pitch and pace to convey the feedback.
This will be more valued and appreciated by people while everyone is working from home.
10. Company Vision
To ensure that everyone remembers the big picture, the purpose, what they are working for and what they are working toward as a collective group.
Reinforce the company vision, values and mission statements to help people feel as though they are a part of the whole. Part of the team, part of the big picture and a part of the future.
We are in all in this together and by working remotely together we will move with strength into a dynamic future.
- Demonstrate empathy, understanding and patience.
- Continue to build and maintain rapport.
- Continue to develop and inspire TRUST.
- Open and effective communication
- Documented expectations
- Transparency in self-management
- Feedback – positive reinforcement
- Company Vision
Links to related articles:
Links to related tools:
I hope that you find some value in these insights.