I am new to this job. I have 30 people reporting to me from a different geo. I have not had enough time to mingle with them or even meet them. Now with working from home, the team is suspected to be not productive. I think they are taking my lack of knowledge of the systems here for granted and slowing down work and relaxing more. I am a leader who trusts people and I don’t micro manage. How do I bring productivity up and seriousness at work in this situation where everyone works from home?

I am new to this job. I have 30 people reporting to me from a different geo. I have not had enough time to mingle with them or even meet them. Now with working from home, the team is suspected to be not productive. I think they are taking my lack of knowledge of the systems here for granted and slowing down work and relaxing more. I am a leader who trusts people and I don’t micro manage. How do I bring productivity up and seriousness at work in this situation where everyone works from home?

Dearest Reader,

I understand your predicament. Trust, bonding and reverence take time to develop. They cannot be accelerated.

Here is a working plan for you. When this sequence is followed, your team could come to a listening mode and then it is easier to have them work effectively.

Day 1: Talk about the importance of the project from 3 perspectives – for the organization, from the skill development of people, for the client
At the end of the call, pls ask people to add any points to the 3 perspectives for the next call

Day 2: Encourage people to talk about the 3 perspectives – It is ok if only 3 people of 30 talk about it. You’re required to highly encourage, appreciate, and elaborate/reinforce on some of the points and stress how important the project is and make the people feel great about working in the project.

Day 3: Mention about the progress the team is making on the project (which is slow) and ask what can help to speed up the project. Ask for ideas. Even if people give lame excuses or impractical ideas, pls listen and not comment negatively. You can pinpoint and ask some of the resourceful guys, senior guys on their thoughts on speeding up on the project (Do not talk about individual productivity)

Day 4: Sometime after the project call, ask your team how their friends find the impact on their work during the lockdown period. Listen and ask probing questions. Please mention that the lockdown is impacting many businesses worldwide. For example, an IT/BPO wing of an American conglomerate major aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, is impacted. There is unverified news that this BPO could be asking employees to take a 30% pay cut. In the case of another Indian multinational corporation that provides information technology, its retail industry clients have stopped volumes and over 100 employees associated with the project are on the bench. This is causing employee stress. Ask your team again if they have heard news like this on the impact. Then, mention that for this company to remain competitive despite some global challenges, how well we deliver this project matters. Ask people what it takes for bringing the project to speed. (Indirectly you are kindling the job insecurity fear and hence gaining better seriousness and commitment)

Day 5: Ask for inputs from people and mention that together we require solutions to fast track from the current state for the interest of all. Ask them to mail.

Day 6: Even if lesser inputs flow in, add your inputs to track productivity by end of shift. Then implement end of shift tracker

Day 7: During project review calls or daily review calls ask people who achieve higher productivity and goals to talk about what constraints they faced and how they made it. Encourage them! Talk a few words highly. Ask people who are not committed, if they face similar constraints. Ask if they face any different constraints. Let them open up. Your tone should be genuine.

Why this schedule and sequence?

  • Buy-in is high when staff themselves understand the situation and provide the solution
  • The leader is talking about project success, org and team advantages and so will have a better acceptance than when talking about productivity.
  • I am spacing interactions so that the team has adequate time to trust the leader and the leader to understand and unearth what the team feels and use it for his planning.

Soulfully Yours,

Freddie

The Father Manager

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