COVID-19 has acted as a big reboot for how managers and employees work together. It’s torn down previous locked-in thinking and management paradigms that were born in the industrial era.
We’re now in a knowledge economy and the pandemic has helped us transition rapidly to new management styles and ways of working that are more fit for today’s workforce.
1. Humanizing work
Work conversations have organically flowed into the personal space, as dogs, kids and dirty dishes have made appearances on Zoom calls. These interventions have made it okay for managers and employees to take the conversation to a personal level.
The act of having a more personal conversation builds stronger connections and more meaningful relationships. Employees feel more comfortable, the conversation is more authentic and the world of work feels more human.
With a direct window into the home lives of employees, managers get to see the distractions and circumstances being juggled everyday, and can tailor their approach with more empathy for individual needs
And the window goes both ways, employees see managers in their homes which humanizes them too. Making managers more approachable and creating the space and confidence for employees to manage up without falling over .
2. WFA (Working From Anywhere) impact on trust and autonomy
Working from anywhere has been a catalyst for a fundamental shift in the way work is managed. Out of the office - it is no longer possible to count hours of work done or to micro manager every task, instead managers and employees have had to become outcome-focused and by doing so we have created new levels of autonomy.
Employees have discretion over how they go about reaching their goals, when they work, and where they work. This autonomy increases engagement, productivity and performance for employees, and managers discover newfound levels of trust in their team’s ability to deliver without a tonne of input.
3. Managers becoming coaches
With so much uncertainty and constant change, the manager employee relationship has had to become more agile, forward-looking, and forgiving. Managers have become focused on in-the-moment coaching of their team members to help them be successful over the next two weeks based on the latest information at hand.
Coupled with forced higher levels of autonomy and trust, the conversation is more about problem solving and future success instead of employee assessment and judgement.
What happens after covid?
These trends were happening pre-COVID but they’ve been accelerated by the crisis and whilst this style of manager employee relationship is essential in remote teams, it’s also the people management skills you’ll find in high performing office-based teams.
It’s suited to knowledge or service based work and lets face it - that’s what most of us are doing.