Below are some golden rules for managing a team well, both remotely and in person.
Set clear expectations
Setting clear expectations ensures that your team understands what they are responsible for and when it needs to be done. Many people at UCL may have caring responsibilities for vulnerable relatives while working remotely, so may not be able to achieve as much in their work as they might have hoped to. Your expectations will need to allow for that.
Agree on ground rules with your team. Due to the hybrid working situation, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion have updated the equality impact assessment form and developed specific guidance that managers and departments can use to inform decision making and managing critical change for their team.
Lead by example
If you set and maintain clear boundaries around when you work, take time for self-care and are flexible around the type of work you are doing, you will give a clear positive example for your team members. For example, you could agree on expected office hours for your team, while accommodating flexible working arrangements.
Consider flexibility in your own working hours to allow you to attend to any caring responsibilities. Update your diary with times you are not available, due to caring or other responsibilities, and encourage your team to do the same where flexible arrangements have been agreed with line managers. .
Think about how best to share key messages. With so many different channels and platforms, think about which is the most suitable for the message you need to share.
Be explicit in written communications as tone of voice and body language can't be captured. UCL provides guidance on email etiquette which can also be applied to other forms of digital communication. Keep all written correspondence short and concise so that there is no space for misinterpretation.
Make time for your team
You need to be visible and available to your team. One way to do this is through regular catch-ups. These meetings can be used both to catch up on what they're working on, and also how they're feeling.
Do listen to everyone's answers as this will help you to pick up on any differences in a person’s responses/attitude, which you may wish to follow up on separately. End each meeting on a positive note; let your team know that they can reach out to you as they need to. Remember to consider the different needs of staff during meetings. For example, some people may need to use live captions in MS Teams so presenters will need to speak very clearly in order for this to work. Consider holding "huddles" to provide staff with an opportunity to receive key updates, discuss priorities for the week ahead, and they can check-in with each other.
Be supportive and compassionate
We are all facing our own challenges so listen to your team about what theirs are. Some may need more support than others but be careful that your support is not seen as micro-managing.
Staff may also need support with their working arrangements and any existing agreements may need to be reviewed. The UCL Adjustments Passport should be used where these reviews need to take place.
We know that there are many societal issues that may have an impact upon Black staff and their sense of wellbeing. UCL’s institutional response is important, but so is that of individuals who interact with Black staff on a day-to-day basis. Line managers have a responsibility in this context; their awareness of these issues and how they support their staff.
Be considerate and realistic when setting expectations. Consider flexibility for staff with short- and long-term caring responsibilities. Staff may need to take special leave in some circumstances. The Disability Awareness factsheet provides information on a range of disabilities and health conditions.
Supporting bereavement and loss
During this time, it is possible that colleagues may suffer the loss of a loved one or significant other, and indeed, teams may suffer the loss of a colleague. Managers will be instrumental in providing support to teams and individuals. For special leave entitlements, refer to the UCL policy regarding bereavement and loss.
The UCL Learning Academy offers a range of courses to support staff and line managers across a broad range of topics, with a focus on building resilience and supporting wellbeing. Visit the learning academy here.
Supporting your team's progression
Continue to have developmental conversations with your team – these can be run online or in person. A new online learning programme called ‘Developmental Conversations Module 1’ has been designed to support all staff in structuring 1:1 conversations enabling a more dynamic and responsive approach to goal setting and personal development. The new questioning techniques facilitate open, two-way dialogue and will be equally useful to problem-solving conversations with peers and stakeholders.
Career Frameworks for Professional Services Staff support staff to think more strategically about their career progression and development, while providing suggestions of possible learning options through learning on the job, learning from others, or formal learning. The frameworks are also designed to support line managers for annual appraisals, preparing for developmental conversations and to support succession planning.