Leading a Team Through Seismic Change

Leading a Team Through Seismic Change

Paulina Sarecka
Delivery Center Operations Manager

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, employees have been displaced from their traditional office locations to work remotely in an effort to practice social distancing.  For some, this is a new way of working.  For others, it’s an adjustment working from home alongside partners, children, and housemates. 

Adjusting to Change

As manager of Pontoon’s Krakow Customer hub, I have daily responsibility for over 100 people. Our daily interactions in the office, whether a catch up over a coffee or more formal team meetings all make up valuable pieces of a people management process.

But “office life” as we know it has changed for the time being and we can no longer rely on all the previously known comforts of normal work life that we unknowingly took for granted.

Maintain Momentum

We now find ourselves embarking on a change management process to adjust to this new situation. In doing so, here are some of the things I have found most helpful when transitioning to managing people remotely:

  • Daily huddles – as a business we use PERFORM methodology and hold short meetings every day to talk about our mood, performance, and plans for the day. My team has found it beneficial to continue these huddles remotely via use video chat. The outcome is strong and consistent communication among my team which keeps morale high, regular updates on each team members’ individual progress and the bonus of showing off each person’s home work spaces.
  • Use online document repositories – this is a central place where everyone can view and edit documents keeps everyone informed and updated and cuts down on the amount of email traffic. This enables our team to collaborate in real time even though we are geographically dispersed.
  • Keep your virtual door open – an email feels more invasive to somebody’s time than grabbing them with a question at the water cooler. In a remote working environment, some team members might hold back with questions or not ask for help. I make sure I’m always available for my team via email, chat or video should they need me, and we make sure to connect regularly both in groups and to individuals.
  • Team events – Create your own coffee and lunch breaks and even after work drinks with a video chat tool. These help with team bonding and allows more casual conversations to let off steam during uncertain times.
  • Shout about great work – it’s difficult acknowledge collaboration when working remotely as team work is not as immediately visible. We use an online recognition program to reward team members helping keep the environment positive.
  • Empathise – everyone is adapting. I have been in lock down with my husband and a 3 year old for three weeks as many others have been as well and I’m the first to say it has been tough. Sharing about our experience has been a great outlet for my team and I, even if my toddler sits in on video calls. We can shows each other that we’re all human and doing the best we can.

I am proud to work for an organization that has been agile and quick in the response this crisis and proud to have a team people around me who have adapted to the situation brilliantly, not letting this challenge affect productivity or team spirit.

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