Practical Support to Line Managers during COVID-19

Practical Support to Line Managers during COVID-19

The current situation with COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on business, the traditional 'workplace', teams and individuals. Line managers have a critical role to play in managing their remote employees, maintaining morale and productivity in difficult, often stressful circumstances and finding new ways to interact with their teams. Here are some of the highlights from our recent Cityworks webinar on this topic where we shared our advice for how to support line managers during this crisis.
The role of a line manager is multifaceted. From delivering business goals through to fostering positive communication with their team members and other business units based on trust, empowerment and motivation, it is a complex role that under ‘normal’ social and business conditions has a large range of aspects and these are only heightened during this global pandemic. COVID-19 is adding additional challenges to the role as line managers are having to adapt fully remote teams to a new way of working, implementing new technologies which they themselves may be unfamiliar with, whilst ensuring their teams are able to engage and fulfil their roles successfully. Asynchronous working is challenging teams as they need to adjust to individuals working on different schedules to accommodate home schooling, caring and family responsibilities. 

How can you helping line managers to manage their remote teams effectively?

It is business critical that line managers are supported and empowered to successfully lead their teams during this unprecedented time.

Our recommendations on how to best achieve this are informed by best practice and expert advice:

  • Agree the new ‘norms’: for example, appropriate lead times to respond to enquiries, ‘core’ team hours and realistic timeframes for responding.
  • Check on workloads
  • Focus on results and allow flexibility
  • Share personal workstyle: share your own pattern of work for the coming week and encourage others to do the same
  • Role model self-certainty
  • Don’t forget to celebrate

Helpful guidance and signposting for line managers

CIPD's 2020 wellbeing research confirms too few organisations are equipping line managers with the knowledge and skills to support people’s mental health.

This can be avoided by creating online community ‘hubs’ specifically for line managers. These can provide relevant online training modules and Q&A forums for dedicated HR advice. It is important that line managers have access to briefing sessions on relevant policies, employment options (voluntary unpaid leave, reduced hours) and key changes, with advice on processes and protocols for managing change so they can communicate these with their teams. In addition to functional business tasks it is essential to maintain the health and well being of the teams so providing guidance on prevention, early intervention and mental health support is key.

How can Line Managers look out for their team members?

  • Ask open ended questions
  • Rate stress levels: ask people individually to rate their current stress levels out of 10
  • Focus on short range immediate tasks
  • Map your team: are any team members pregnant or a new parent; with caring responsibilities; with physical or mental health conditions; alone or in a crowded household?
  • Listen for cues: are people taking daily breaks, doing exercise and switching off from work properly? Look out for different tones of written communication; the rate, volume, pitch and inflexion of voice communication; any atypical physical behaviours in video communications.

Practical tools and further support?

Cityworks' Best practice guide on 'Maintaining employee morale and productivity during COVID-19'.

CIPD 2020 Wellbeing research.

MIND: Line manager guide & employee guide.

Join us for our next webinar on ‘Financial Fitness During Challenging Times – register here.

Slides from our webinar on Practical Support to Line Managers during COVID-19 are available to members here.

Cityparents has a developed a wealth of online materials to support City professionals including webinars, advice and sharing of stories.

Category: Expert Advice

Released On 3rd May 2020

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We are monitoring closely implications of the spread of Coronavirus. In accordance with advice provided by Public Health England, we respectfully ask that you avoid attending any Cityworks events if you have travelled to, or via, any location where there has been an outbreak and/or community transmission of COVID-19 within 14 days of the date of the event. It is possible events taking place in the near-term may be cancelled or postponed; please keep an eye on our website for updates.