By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The shift from being an independent engineering contributor to becoming an engineering manager can be quite challenging. 

Engineering is often seen as a solitary craft where you spend time fixing bugs, crafting user stories, and taking deep dives into volumes of code. However, as the engineer graduates to the role of an engineering manager, these activities are replaced by one-on-one planning sessions, project meetings, and helping the team progress along the project path. Impact now is no longer defined by the lines of code written but by the success of the team.

For engineering managers, the roadblocks to professional success are seldom technical. They are invariably personal. 

Engineering today has moved from being an isolated activity to becoming more collaborative. Modern technology products demand teams to work cohesively and collaboratively – especially as the world moves towards a more distributed environment. 

Distributed and remote teams are a part of any software development teams’ vocabulary. And thus, along with having a strong technical foundation and being extremely knowledgeable, engineering managers also have to have strong people skills to drive successful projects. 

Jessica McKeller, a major stalwart in the Python community and the founder of the company Zulip (later acquired by Dropbox), says, “When engineering management is done right, you’re focusing on three big things,” she says. “You’re directly supporting the people on your team; you’re managing execution and coordination across teams; and you’re stepping back to observe and evolve the broader organization and its processes as it grows.” 

None of these activities are easy, and each of these comes with their complexities and challenges. 

So, what can organizations do to ensure that their engineering managers are effective leaders?

Enable access to rich eLearning material 

Learning is a continuous process when an engineer becomes a manager. This is because of the rapid pace of technological change, evolving market trends, and growing individual team members’ needs. 

Engineering teams are also more motivated by managers who have strong technical skills complementing their power skills. They will hardly look up to a manager who is not technically superior or cannot solve their problems. They will not lend discretionary effort or become highly motivated if their engineering manager does not provide the technical guidance and emotional support they need. 

To feed this need for continuous learning, organizations should provide their engineering managers access to rich eLearning material to help them navigate the chasm between desired skills and where they stand at present. 

However, with a plethora of eLearning options available comes a complexity. Which learning resource is right for the manager? What do they need training on? Where are the areas of improvement? Organizations thus have to ensure that they make these programs contextual to the individual needs of the managers. 

Enabling an intelligent recommendation engine to direct the managers towards the right program ensures better learning outcomes. It is so because now the managers don’t have to sift through volumes of courses to decide which one is the right one for them but spend time deciding which of the right courses is best for them. 

Provide coaching to become better managers

To be on top of their game and become good leaders, engineering managers have to complement their technical skills with strong strategic and critical thinking skills. They have to identify ways to keep their teams motivated, productive, and innovative. 

While they have to take on more responsibilities, they also need to master the game of delegation and prioritization, increase their EQ, and become better problem-solvers. Developing the capability to identify the development needs, the hurdles that keep the team members from performing to their best capacity and helping them succeed also fall under the purview of the engineering manager. 

These skills, generally categorized as soft skills, are essentially the power tools a manager needs to build a high-performing team. Developing skills like these involve introducing a behavioral change and, hence, day-long training programs do not suffice.

Instead, organizations have to enable these managers with robust, relevant, and contextual built-in coaching programs. These coaching programs can help them internalize these behavioral changes and become managers who can grow teams with industry knowledge, drive engineering excellence, and successfully manage their teams.

Develop the emotional intelligence to lead successful teams

Engineering seems like a cold and scientific process. However, the ones engineering futuristic solutions are human. 

To become successful engineering managers, it becomes essential to connect with the team at an emotional level. An absence of this emotional connection leads to struggles in building trust and camaraderie – tools that are essential for collaboration in today’s world of work.

We have enough research to propound that people don’t leave organizations, they leave a bad manager. But who is a bad manager? Arguably, the one who micromanages, does not trust team members, cannot provide guidance when needed, or is hyper-focused on individual development and ignores the needs that team members require to become high-performing individuals. 

Technically sound engineering managers have to open up to developing their emotional intelligence, identifying the latent needs of their team members, and learning how to best engage with their team members. 

Often the biggest hurdle for engineering managers is to just learn when to bite their tongue rather than give a frank opinion right off the bat. Calibrating when a team member needs your help and when they need guidance and support helps in fostering a culture of accountability. It helps the team members realize the trust being placed on them. 

Focusing on building power skills that help managers become better team leaders leads to more engaged, productive, and motivated teams. The absence of these skills poses the opposite effect and impacts the health of a team. To put it simply, engineering managers with higher EQ and well-developed power skills contribute to lowering employee churn, improve employee engagement, and build a healthier work culture. 

In Conclusion 

Developing effective engineering managers has also become an organizational priority since the pace of remote work has increased exponentially. Managing a remote or distributed engineering team needs elevated communication and collaboration skills. It needs greater prowess to keep these teams motivated, productive, and engaged. 

However, strong managers have to capably navigate the challenges posed in these situations with calm dexterity, greater resilience, creativity, and equanimity so that their teams continue to remain engaged.

Connect with us to understand how our Innovation & Engineering Coaching Program can help you build engineering managers who will lead your engineering teams and your organization to the pinnacle of success.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

What is the main difference that separates a good R&D team from a great one? Most will put ‘technical skills’ on top of the chart. The reality, however, is a bit different. 

Of course, organizations need to bank on their R & D teams’ knowledge and technical expertise to come up with innovative solutions. However, do innovative solutions emerge from learning and textual knowledge alone? Or are innovative ideas the outcome of a seeking, curious mind? A mind that is determined to think out of the box, persevere when things look bleak, have the patience to stay on the quest, and work as a collective to come to the desired outcome?

Soft skills, or power skills, as we see them, are the traits that shape how teams work. 

While hard or technical skills are needed to perform technical tasks, soft skills are essential to create a positive, enabling, and nurturing work environment. The importance of soft skills is often undervalued, but this is changing fast enough. 

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report states that skills like creativity, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence, people management, critical thinking, and strategic thinking are some of the most important skills required in the workplace.  

Also Read: How Employees with Power Skills Give Companies A Competitive Advantage

Here is a list of some important soft skills that differentiate a great R&D team from a good one.

Customer Focus

R&D teams need to come up with path-breaking innovative solutions. This demands them to be creative thinkers. However, they also have to be highly customer-focused to come up with the right solutions to real-world problems.

Great R&D teams put the customer in the heart of their initiatives. They have the emotional intelligence and the capability to think and anticipate customer needs, understand their pain points and design, and realize what kind of a solution fits the clients’ narrative.  

Collaboration

When collaboration is driving the world, R&D teams are no exception. The great ones are the ones who do not operate in silos and isolation. They cannot be removed from the other departments of the organization and be expected to come up with path-breaking solutions.

Great R&D teams are aligned with organizational goals and objectives. They work and collaborate with other departments and teams to understand how to improve products, identify avenues and opportunities for new product development by evaluating variables such as customer pain points or technological evolution. These teams realize that ‘teamwork’ makes the teams work.

These teams are highly focused in their collaboration efforts and identify and design systems and processes that drive alignment and teamwork.

Persistence and Tenacity

These traits bring in the ‘never say die’ attitude on the table. The team members are highly motivated to seek out challenging work and areas for innovation keeping customer advocacy in mind. They are also future-focused and employ their creative and strategic thinking skills tenaciously to serve the customer better.  

However, persistence and tenacity do not just mean keeping at it when things get complicated or if a particular solution takes longer than expected to come to fruition. It also means possessing the ability to recognize when a particular effort is going down a dead end.

A great R&D team can tenaciously pursue a project. But it also knows when to press the breaks, take account of the situation, re-assess and re-evaluate and then get back on the road to discovery with no loss of enthusiasm.

Communication and Networking Skills

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes”, said Henry. J. Kaiser. 

Given that the modern workplace is interpersonal, R&D teams have to have strong networking and communication skills to identify these problems and convince the concerned stakeholders about why they need resolution.

No matter how great a solution, it has to be backed up with a strong argument. Great R&D teams have a great technical vocabulary, and they back this up with their communication and networking skills to navigate the complexities of the modern-day workplace. They ensure that their technical, communication, and networking vocabulary build strong arguments with understanding and empathy.

Adaptability

With the world being in a state of constant flux, there are always ideas for innovation. However, for this, the teams need emotional intelligence to identify pain points and challenges and be open to their evolution.

High-powered R&D teams have very high levels of emotional intelligence complementing their technical intelligence. This combination gives them the throughput to become more adaptable and responsive to the constant state of flux that envelops the entire business landscape. It is the adaptability that gives these teams the capacity to be productive, even when things get challenging.

Planning and Execution

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – No matter how great an idea, it will exist only in an amorphous state in the absence of a plan that brings it to life.

Great R&D teams are also great at planning and execution. They approach innovation in a highly methodical and organized manner. They are aware of the importance of timelines and know that without clear planning and robust execution, achieving their goals is highly unlikely. 

These teams have exceptional delegation and organization skills. The teams are self-motivated, great at time management, and have high ownership levels complementing their accountability levels. The high accountability and ownership levels ensure that they stick to the execution schedule to ensure timely delivery of the project.

Leadership

Leadership is almost an attitude in these teams – an attitude that helps each individual take complete ownership of their tasks, be helpful towards their teammates, and think as a collective and not as an individual. The leadership attitude helps all these team members remain invested in the project. 

Leadership skills such as decision making, intuitiveness to evaluate business and market trends, technology and product evolution, and customer demands, lead to powerful R&D initiatives. Great R&D teams empower all their team members with this leadership mindset – a mindset that makes them place the team above themselves.

Also Read: What Organizations MUST Do to Create Innovation Culture and Grow Strong R & D teams

A cursory glance makes it obvious that these soft skills contribute to the ‘greatness’ of a team. These soft skills, or rather, power skills, give teams the thrust they need to be successful in their outcomes. And ultimately, it is these skills that separate the ‘good’ from the ‘great’.

Are you coaching your R & D teams on these soft skills? With NumlyEngage™, you can deliver measurably greater employee engagement and employee & business growth through a structured approach to soft skills development for innovation in R&D.

Get a demo today

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Industry disruption and technological change are present-day reality. 

Digital information networks have made the world more connected than ever before. Opportunities to grow and cross-fertilize innovative ideas across the organization are becoming more plausible. 

These changes are bringing about a renaissance of sorts in a department that has somehow continued to retain its traditional format – the R&D department. 

However, companies that are successful in pushing the R&D teams out of their traditional avatars have turned this department into a major powerhouse for business. Think about industry leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple. All of these companies have created a strong innovation culture that has permeated to their R&D teams. 

So, what can organizations do to create an innovation culture and grow strong R&D teams?

What is an innovation culture?

An innovation culture, simplistically, creates a climate that is conducive to innovation. 

In such an environment, employees are growth-oriented, keen to take on challenges, and eager to come up with new ideas for value creation. They can do so because the organization is supportive of new ideas and idea generation. 

Organizations with an innovation culture also encourage and reward discovery. 

Innovation culture and the R&D team 

The pressure on organizations to build and deliver world-class products is only increasing. This trend is not going to change. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations have to boost the innovation culture in their R&D teams to make it stronger. 

How can they achieve this?

Deliver world-class innovation

An innovation culture demands a high level of accountability from all those working in this segment. Everyone is expected to be hyper-focused on delivering the best product, services, platforms out into the market. These people not only have to be focused inwards to explore innovation opportunities but outwards as well to make sure that they out-innovate competition. 

But this culture begins with a philosophy that is almost analogous to parenting. Parenting demands that you give a child both roots and wings. Thus, at an organizational level, it is essential to ground creative and innovative minds in accountability towards organizational goals, focus areas, capabilities, and commitments. 

It involves 

  • Identifying the barriers to innovation and helping the R&D team members see where their work fits in and where it could go. 
  • Helping them seek out and enabling opportunities to interact with people who can help them grow and excel in areas where they might need help. 
  • Reinventing the concept of productivity. Instead of relying on traditional productivity metrics such as on-time delivery, productivity has to be linked with time spent on research and discovery and value generation. 
  • Reinventing and fine-tuning business processes so that these don’t become impediments and barriers to innovation.

Focus on building a strong culture 

Innovation culture is rooted deeply in the growth mindset. 

Growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be fostered, abilities can be developed, and that mistakes are not signs of failures but opportunities for improvement. 

To develop an innovation culture in the R&D teams, organizations have to create systems that support employees to grow their skills and abilities. These systems have to help employees remain on the path of continuous learning and continuous improvement to become change agile and recognize their own value and potential. 

These processes have to generate energy within employees to improve and excel. They also have to have the right measurement metrics to help employees understand their barriers of excellence and success and then provide the right tools to scale this chasm.

A strong innovation culture also lies deeply rooted in being customer-obsessed. Developing the ability to think ahead and to think from the customer’s point of view involves an amalgamation of scientific and creative skills. Skills like empathy, observation, critical, and strategic have to be cultivated so that the R & D teams can create products that customers love.

Additionally, to create a strong culture, organizations also have to focus on creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive technical excellence. This involves not only improving the technical dexterity of the employees, but also honing their problem-solving skills, adaptability levels, creative thinking capabilities, and curiosity. It also involves developing the capability to apply continuous learning to technical challenges to come up with creative and innovative solutions. 

Grow a strong team 

Driving innovation culture demands developing strong teams…teams that are focused and motivated to excel in their job roles and eager to push the envelope a little bit further each time. 

The first step towards this involves providing clarity in roles and responsibilities, expectations, and outcomes. When employees are acutely aware of what is expected of them, it becomes easier to map the steps needed to achieve these goals. 

Managers play a critical role in helping team members gain clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities. They are instrumental in pushing team members to raise the bar through positive reinforcements. They are critical in raising the employee engagement and employee experience bar to have team members who willingly put in discretionary efforts. All of these initiatives rely heavily on power skills. Working on these aspects helps in generating energy within the team members where they become self-motivated and innovation inclined. 

When implemented, all these efforts help in creating an innovation culture that helps in growing strong R&D teams. 

While organizations will need to look at the technical dexterity of their workforce, they have to focus more on developing the power skills of their employees. This is simply because being innovative, is a Power Skill. 

The AI and ML-powered NumlyEngage™can help you grow a strong team, build an innovation culture, and deliver world class innovation. Get a demo today

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

According to a McKinsey study, 79% of entry-level women and 83% of middle-management women desire to move to the next level in their workplace. 75% of women aspire to become a part of the C Suite – numbers that prove that ambition is not gender defined. 

However, even today, only 4.6% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are female!

We are finally moving away from ‘second-generation gender bias’, a set of assumptions that appear neutral but reflect prejudiced values in the traditional perception of leadership. To get women to the top, organizations have to focus on developing a few critical leadership skills of their high-potential women leaders. 

Here is a small list.

Building Credibility 

Credibility is a core skill of all successful leaders and has to be a key focus area of all leadership development initiatives. This is the same for high-potential women employees as well. Trust goes hand in hand with credibility and, hence, it is not something that can happen overnight. Credible leaders are a dependable source of information and expertise. It also makes them good decision-makers. Such leaders also rank highly on the accountability matrix and take full responsibility for their actions and decisions. 

Negotiation and Influencing 

Our social conditioning through the decades has made it harder for women to claim authority, which often impedes their negotiation success rates. Women are taught from the onset that by negotiating, they are taking something away from a person. This feels like a violation of the social contract they are born with. 

Yet, negotiating skills and the capability to influence others greatly determine the success rate of an individual. Building key behaviors such as asking for what they need without feeling stressed or uncomfortable, building negotiation style, developing strategies to leverage past successes for future negotiations, and identifying and overcoming the barriers of negotiation success are essential. 

Managing Up & Across the Organization

Those working their way up the leadership ladder have to hone their skills to manage teams across the organizations. For this, it is imperative to develop the capabilities to lead cross-functional teams and manage the hierarchies at play. 

It also means developing the skills to manage complex relationships. Having strong communication skills and having an understanding of the language that is most effective for peers, subordinates, and high-ups become critical metrics for leadership success. 

Managing Organizational Complexities and Strategic Thinking 

Given the volatile and dynamic market conditions, high-potential women employees, much like their male counterparts, have to work towards honing their strategic thinking skills. To do so, it is important to first gain a deep understanding of the organizational complexities at hand, the challenges the organization faces, the areas of improvement, and what the organization is doing right in relation to the market dynamics. All these things help in getting the contextual understanding of decision impact. 

Organizations have to groom their women leaders to improve their capability to ‘see around the corner’. This means they have to develop the capability to anticipate market shifts with customers, regulations, policies, and competitors by understanding which information to keep and which ones to ignore.

Behavior, Feedback, and Leadership Perception

Learning is an essential and unending part of the leadership journey. Determining the effectiveness of the leadership style, thus becomes important. And for this, it is important to be open to feedback and develop strong capabilities to self-evaluate and develop the right set of behaviors and attitudes that support the personal leadership brand, and consequently, the career direction. 

Build Strategic Networks for Authentic Engagement 

Organizations have to assist women employees in mastering dominant codes that nurture ambition. This includes building awareness of self-imposed limitations and the crucial importance of networking. 

High-potential women employees have to be more focused on building strategic networks to create opportunities for broader professional exposure while raising their profile, having more meaningful interactions, and building more authentic engagement. 

Identify and Implement a Personal Leadership Strategy 

Should you ‘Lean in’ or ‘Lean out’? Should your leadership style be authoritative and/or assertive? Do women have to be louder to be a leader? Do leaders always have to be extroverts? Clearly, there are many leadership styles to choose from. But which one is the most ‘effective’ leadership style? 

Organizations have to now take a step forward and help their high-potential women employees realize their own leadership strengths, simply because leadership does not come in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ format. To develop effective women leaders, organizations must help them understand different leadership styles and then enable them to confidently embrace the one that suits their personality, situation, and organizational culture. 

The last few years have been standout years for women in the corporate world. While there are cracks that are appearing in the proverbial glass ceiling, it is yet to be shattered. The onus of furthering the cause of women does not rest with the women workforce alone. It rests with organizations as well. Having recognized the value that women bring to organizations, organizations should leverage coaching and mentoring programs to help their women employees move ahead in leadership roles by bridging the gaps that impede their growth in a male-centric environment. 

 

NumlyEngage™ helps you build a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Let’s connect to know how you can leverage the power of AI and analytics to identify and nurture high-potential talent. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon – what’s common between these billion-dollar companies? If we look closely, we see that their fortunes were an outcome of making innovation a part of their central business strategy. 

Google started as a search engine. Amazon was an online book store. Microsoft’s first product was a version of the programming language BASIC for the Altair 8800 “microcomputer”. These organizations were successful with their initial product offerings. However, would they hold the behemoth’s status had they not been laser-focused on building breakthroughs and coming up with strategies that provided greater value at cost, redefined channels, built new markets, and new business models?   

Disruption is our new normal. Organizations globally are looking at ways and means to transform their business, improve their customer experience, identify new markets, and create competitive differentiation. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations must assume disruption to be a constant and then take concrete steps to foster innovation as a part of the company strategy.  They additionally have to foster innovative strategies, identify and eliminate obstacles, manage risk, and craft the optimal metrics and set the right measurement expectations. 

Organizations that follow this path can remain innovative and profitable in the face of disruption.

But what is needed for innovation to happen? Innovation comes from ‘minds’…the minds of the most valuable assets that any organization has – its people. 

To build innovation into a strategy, organizations need to build the innovation mindset in their people. What does this mindset consist of?

The capability to identify and seize new opportunities 

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“We cannot solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

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Innovation happens when the workforce is geared to look for and identify new opportunities. This can only happen when employees start with the mindset that things can be done differently. If something is ‘broken’ how can it be fixed? Does this present an opportunity? Is there an opportunity blind spot? Can something be done better? 

Pretty close to an entrepreneurial mindset, this mindset helps employees become more solution-driven in their approach. It consequently makes them growth-oriented by helping them internalize that in every adversity lies opportunity. 

The willingness to think 

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“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

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Developing the capability to identify opportunities is one face of the coin. How to make it work is the most important part. To achieve this, organizations have to help their employees build their capacity to think, be it strategically or creatively, to come up with working solutions. This demands the capability to objectively think through the problem and the solution, identify the risks involved, and then take the calculated risks needed to achieve the business goals. 

Develop entrepreneurial mindsets 

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-“Train your brain to think more clearly. The mind is everything. What you think, you become” – Jack Ma

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One of the most coveted traits of successful entrepreneurs is their capability to think outside of the box. Thinking outside the box is a mindset that asks you to treat each difficulty, hurdle, challenge, and failure as an opportunity to grow. This mindset, called the growth mindset, is a set of beliefs that program individuals to believe that intelligence can be fostered, leadership can be developed, and talent can be nurtured.

Helping employees develop a growth mindset helps organizations remain agile in the face of change by helping them look at difficult situations as a challenge. It encourages people to experiment with ideas to scale these issues by leveraging their strengths. Where they find themselves falling short, employees are then self-motivated to improve and employ all the strategies they know, old and newly developed, to solve a problem and hence consequently boost innovation.

Create better solutions 

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“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination” – Fitzhugh Dodson

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Organizations need to increase their capacity to create and deliver great solutions to improve their innovation game. Given that an organization is not an amorphous concept, its capacity to create better solutions is directly proportional to its employee’s capacity to think of great solutions. 

It is thus imperative to help the employees identify where they are on the solution graph, identify which skills they need to work on to improve their thinking prowess, assess how they can boost collaboration and creativity in themselves and their team members. Only then, these employees can develop game-changing, creative solutions in a faster or less expensive manner. 

To navigate this path successfully, employees have to develop the capability to create action-oriented and clear goals. These goals can be in the form of project plans, work allocations, follow up meetings, project status reports, expected stage-level outcomes, etc. that will help them move from point A to point B. 

Develop a sense of urgency 

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“Either you have a sense of urgency today or a sense of regret tomorrow”

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Innovation does not take place when we put things off for later. That’s the perfect recipe for a dish called ‘missed opportunity’. To increase their capacity to innovate, organizations have to ensure that they secure the complete commitment of their employees. And this commitment comes from having a strong sense of urgency. This urgency emerges from accountability and ownership of tasks and a problem-solving approach to achieving their goals. 

A sense of urgency does not mean having your employees run around like headless chickens being busy in the business of busyness. It instead means developing the innate capabilities to prioritize, categorize, and optimize workflows to ensure maximum productivity and timeliness. 

The interesting thing about all these traits mentioned above is that these are power-skills, skills deemed essential for organizations to successfully navigate the shape-shifting business landscape of today. 

These are all behavioral skills and hence need constant reaffirming so that they become second nature to all individuals. Companies need to use data-backed channels such as personality assessments and behavioral skill assessment tests to evaluate the exact skill requirements of employees. Once that is done, the employees need to be connected with the right coaches to help them hone and improve these skills to keep the wheels of innovation churning in the face of disruption. 

Let’s connect to discuss how we can help you identify, attract, and retain top talent and grow the next generation of business leaders.

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

In the last few weeks, companies around the world have directed their employees to work from home to maintain social distancing and to safeguard themselves from the further spread of COVID-19.

While people welcomed the move, they are finding it difficult to strike a work-life balance.

Children interrupting a conference call, poor internet connectivity, and the blurring line between work and personal life are some of the challenges that people are facing right now. To add to the woes, employees not used to the system of working from home are grappling with loneliness and burnout. In fact, companies like Microsoft, Deloitte, and Procter and Gamble are reaching out to professional counselors and psychiatrists to help employees to tackle the current pandemic and the loneliness caused by social distancing. 

With no immediate respite in sight, employees are compelled to realign the way they work with the existing techniques.

So, what can employees do to stay productive while working from home?

Tips on Staying Productive While Working From Home

Flexible schedule and mindset

You may see a dip in your productivity levels as you work from home. There will be distractions, numerous calls from managers and team members, and some of you may also have to work across different time zones to collaborate better with team members from across the globe. Considering that this is the need of the hour, you need to develop an open mindset and be open to working in a flexible schedule to align yourself with other team members and to ensure that there are no negative implications on business. 

Self-discipline

It is easy to lose self-discipline while working from home. You may feel tempted to snooze the alarm clock and sleep an extra hour because you don’t have to get ready and travel. In fact, there have been reports on how employees turn up in home clothes for video conferences. It is advisable to follow self-discipline and remind yourself that you have to go to work even if it means working from home. Following the same routine of waking up at the same time, getting ready, and starting work at the same time will help employees to stay focused and disciplined throughout the lockdown period. 

Motivation

With no water cooler discussions, team lunches, or occasional walks at the garden, you are bound to feel disconnected and lonely. It is essential to stay connected, especially during these times, when there is panic all around the world. Checking in with the team members before the meeting kickstarts, working at the same time, and virtual tea sessions are some ways to keep the team members motivated. InMobi, for example, has asked managers to connect with their staff individually. Every Thursday, the team members wear caps or connect while having tea or coffee. “We are trying to ensure that we don’t lose the connect. It’s important for employees to meet and connect,” said Sahil Mathur, the global head of HR and culture at InMobi. 

Verbal and written communication skills

Imagine receiving an email that has no clarity on what is expected. In the usual situation, you would walk to the sender’s desk and get your doubts clarified. But imagine the same situation while working from home. An unclear message can delay the completion of tasks. Much time will be spent on understanding, calling, and emailing people back and forth. As Kim Koga, a solutions engineer at Zesto.io said, “Sometimes I just need a quick yes or no, or a time frame of when something can get done, and our internal communication tool doesn’t cut it. I could wait hours for what could be a quick response in person.” The only way to solve this issue is to communicate clearly with the team members, leaving no room for misinterpretations or miscommunication. It will save other’s time and lead to timely completion of tasks. 

Collaboration and teamwork

Several projects demand people to work in collaboration. It also requires them to manage projects on a large scale. So, how do companies ensure collaboration when employees work from home? Luckily, they can leverage collaboration tools such as Slack for communication, Zoom for video calls, and Trello to manage projects. Maintaining ongoing communication will also foster teamwork despite people working from different locations. Appen, a US-based machine learning company, for example, used a variety of collaboration tools and internal forums to drive communication and to troubleshoot common issues. 

Time management

The lines between personal time and work have blurred. Employees have multiple chores to finish and not to forget numerous distractions that could lead to delay in completing a task. Focusing on work can also become challenging. Hence, time management is crucial. You must learn to schedule your time and demarcate your personal time from work time. Switching off completely after calling the day off, avoiding multitasking, and prioritizing tasks, are a few ways to manage time efficiently. 

The lockdown may get extended for a few more weeks, prompting companies to seriously consider making some of their functions virtual. It can help them streamline their operations and reduce establishment costs. With telecommuting becoming popular, and collaborative tools making it easy for people to work more efficiently, we foresee more remote working opportunities in the future. Employees must take this experience as a learning opportunity to get acquainted with the future of work. The onus also lies upon companies to find ways to keep employees engaged, so they do not face burnout or loneliness while working. 

Find out how to keep the employees engaged during and beyond the current COVID–19 pandemic.

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