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Self-management requires management – how to best support your employees

In a time of uncertainty and virtual leadership, employees are far more self-managing than usually – and as a manager, it is difficult to keep track of how your employees thrive. That puts great demands on the employee to balance work and free time – and even greater demands are put on you as a manager, because it is your responsibility to support an efficient working life at home.

Managing self-managing employees is more important than ever before to maintain motivation and commitment in the current situation. Here is our advice.

1. SET THE DIRECTION AND GIVE FEEDBACK

Uncertainty and vagueness can cause conflicts, misunderstandings and stress. Self-management requires a high degree of confidence and belief in the employees’ abilities. At the same time, constructive feedback and continuous matching of expectations are vital both for ensuring a clear direction and for supporting your employees’ professional development. Feedback does not need to be a long call. You can also give feedback via mail, MS Teams or SMS. It is important to clarify your expectations for employees’ specific assignments and time management.

2. HAVE CLEAR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

During uncertain times, new types of tasks can easily be generated, which can cause confusion about responsibilities. To prevent you as a manager becoming a bottleneck for your employees’ decisions and actions, your need to create clarity regarding their roles.  Make sure to communicate short-term priorities and responsibilities – and to clarify what projects and task is put on hold during this period.

3: BE VISIBLE AND PRESENT

Now that most people work from home, visibility and frequent communication are more important than ever. A Harvard Business Review study from 2017 shows that people working from home consider successful managers as being good at frequently and consistently ‘checking in’ with the employee. Therefore, you should never leave an employee working from home with a sense of being alone. If self-management is to flourish, it requires the employee to sense your presence.

4: COMMUNICATE TO MOTIVATE

Self-management depends greatly on dialogue. Support from the managers positively influences employee motivation, and therefore it should be prioritised despite the digital setting. Positive thought patterns from you as a manager can help the employee see their own abilities and potentials. The thought patterns can be transferred through communication, including the small joys in everyday life, e.g. an invitation to ‘reward’ oneself with an afternoon off or some take-away food paid by the company.

5. ACKNOWLEDGE THE INDIVIDUAL

As an employee working from home, one can easily feel alone which can affect productivity and commitment. Therefore, you need to address the challenges and spent time on personal, attentive interactions. E.g. you can call your employees to hear how things are going or book an informal 1: 1. Make sure to ask about the special conditions in which they are working these weeks. Some may have to work from the bedroom or take care of their children during the day. By reaching out, you will create a ‘virtual coffee machine’, so to say, and thus encourage small-talk and informal discussions.