Human Resources

Leadership in Uncertain Times: Managing From Afar

Leadership in Uncertain Times: Managing From Afar

As we navigate the impacts of the coronavirus, it is more important than ever to exercise flexibility and trust with, and provide guidance and support to, those you supervise.

As supervisors, now is the time, more than ever, to be vigilant about employee engagement. Engagement has been described as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals (Kruse, 2012). There are several methods organizations can use to engage employees and retain top talent: providing trusting and challenging environments (Gupta, 2015); offering transparency and recognition (Green, Edwards, & Tokarsky, 2017); insisting on constant feedback and consistent performance management (Magee, 2002); and developing a personal connection with a supervisor (Fitch & Van Brunt, 2016).

"As much as remote work can be fraught with challenges, there are also relatively quick and inexpensive things that managers can do to ease the transition" (HBR).

Consider focusing on the following themes as we transition to remote work locations.


Identify ways to be deliberate about providing trusting relationships to your team members. Gallup suggests that when supervisors treat their employees with trust, employees will trust their supervisors in turn. Hambley says, "Supervisors with remote team members need to be more intentional, more organized and work harder to establish trust than traditional managers. You can't get away with lazy leadership. You must proactively reach out to people regularly to create a sense of teamwork and community." How to Manage Remote Teams Effectively

Growth Opportunities

What better time to promote growth of your employees? Are there things that you have always wished you had the time to research or create? Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) for your employees to complete stretch assignments, create how-to guides for new and continuing employees, develop a proposal to improve processes, research best practices, and take advantage of LinkedIn Learning.


Supervisors should create a communication plan for the team. Set up regularly scheduled team meetings using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Establish Monday Kick-Off meetings that allow time to talk about each other's weekends in addition to plans and priorities for the upcoming week. Put virtual coffee breaks on the calendar to have casual conversations with individual employees. This will provide the much needed connection during these ever changing times. 


Recognizing employees—making them feel valued and appreciated—may also support engagement. Supervisors need to let their employees know their ideas count (Kruse, 2016; & Osborne & Hammoud, 2017). Providing employees with meaningful work may also increase employee engagement. When leaders nominate individuals on their teams to participate in enhanced development opportunities, those individuals experienced greater motivation to perform at a higher level and exceed expectations (Osborne & Hammoud, 2017).