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by Finnegan Pierson | December 28, 2020

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The uncertainty and stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic can put a great strain on employees. Work quality and quantity can suffer, and employees can experience increased anxiety, depression, and fear. To be sure, it can be difficult to know how to be an effective manager in these unprecedented times. So here are six tips that can help.

1. Create a Support Framework

The first thing an effective manager must do during this pandemic is to create a robust support framework. There are a few basic pieces you can construct your framework from and modify later. These are confidence, connection, cover, competence, and calmness. Use these basics to figure out what your team needs to continue working competently and effectively, to feel safe and cared for, and to stay connected to your organization, news about the situation, and the rest of your team. Coordinate with other managers, senior management, and your mentors on the best ways to provide the support your employees need.

2. Offer Health and Safety Resources

It can be helpful to provide resources to employees in case they aren't sure where to find them. Provide links to relevant websites, like the CDC's guidelines and state or national travel restrictions. Offer tips to stay healthy and reduce stress. Provide information for mental health services for people experiencing severe distress related to the pandemic. At an organizational level, make sure you inform employees about any pandemic-related updates, like extending remote work plans.

3. Provide Additional Assistance

Based on your support framework and the health and safety resources available, assess what additional assistance might be needed by employees. The pandemic affects people in many different ways, so every situation will be unique. Have broad plans in place to adapt to each individual situation. In general, try to provide such assistance as extra time off or flexibility for employees taking care of children or other vulnerable people or who need to make arrangements after a death in the family. You might also consider providing more paid sick leave in the event someone contracts or is exposed to Covid-19 and needs to quarantine or be treated.

4. Be Intentional and Proactive in Remote Management

With so many employees working remotely, it can be challenging to adjust management styles to accommodate that. In a virtual environment, it's easy for people to feel disconnected. It's essential to focus on productivity and performance over attendance. Be more proactive with your team by including or introducing tools to better manage employees and help them to better manage themselves. These tools could be integrated messaging apps, improved calendar and email software, or a GPS time clock, among other things. Be intentional in your management, too. Try setting up more regular meetings for the team to touch base and for individuals to give project updates.

5. Sustain Working Relationships

When employees work virtually or are social distancing onsite, they can find it hard to sustain working relationships. You can set up virtual “coffee breaks” for employees to socialize without feeling pressured to discuss work. You could also host virtual community activities such as trivia games, puzzles, or book clubs to replace in-person company events. Hold office hours and keep your availability up-to-date. Make sure employees have opportunities to meet virtually with other team members to discuss project work, rather than communicating solely by email.

6. Practice Self-Care

As a leader, you’re vital to your organization’s well-being and cohesion, so it’s important that you take care of yourself. If you neglect yourself in order to focus on being a good manager, then you’ll be the one who experiences burnout or feels unable to talk about work-related issues you’re experiencing. Additionally, practicing self-care can help you be a good role model for your team. If you take advantage of support structures or reach out for additional assistance, your team will follow your lead.

Finnegan Pierson loves business and has a passion for technology. Even more interesting to him is the combination of the two. As a freelance writer, Finn hopes to influence others so they can have a positive business experience.

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