The past month has been a whirlwind for practically everyone in the world. We are now using terms like social distancing, flattening the curve and new normal like phrases that have been a part of our vernacular forever.
Except this is all new. Very new. And what we are experiencing right now in the workplace and in life is something that is going to impact us for years to come.
While we cannot change our current situation, what we can do is make the most of it. This is where managers and leaders need to step up and do what they do best—lead.
Even though many industries and fields of practice are all impacted by our current crisis, it seems like the accounting, finance and technology professions are struggling even more to stay onbeat.
Why? As working professionals who handle confidential data—and need to securely access that data—they now have a whole other layer of responsibility in this new normal. So, managers need to pivot to make sure that they are directing their teams clearly and are holding everyone accountable for these once thought to be in-house-only responsibilities that have now been taken to remote status.
I thought it would be a good idea to share some ideas as to how you can maintain normalcy including managing your team’s accountability and productivity during the current crisis. Take a look at my 5 Tips to Keep Your Accounting Team (and Everyone Else) Accountable While Working Remotely below.
- Use of a shared dashboard
It’s a good idea to create a simple shared spreadsheet accessible by all your employees where they can enter in their progress of their various projects. Having such a dashboard can reduce the amount of emails back and forth and can even ruffle up a friendly competition among the team. This likely is a good opportunity to boost productivity and accountability—all while keeping you apprised of the status of the work. You can see where people may be excelling or falling behind their goals, and you can use this as a basis for communicating what needs to be done next.
- Hold daily debriefs
Whether you refer to it as a huddle or a check-in, meeting with your team each day is imperative. It’s best to make these meetings virtual where you can see each person over their web cams, but even if it is a phone call, it’s best to have some sort of contact with each of your team members. In fact, it’s crucial that you know where they are from not only a work perspective, but from an emotional perspective, as well. Face it, emotions are running high right now and if someone on your team is having a hard time adjusting, you need to know. Schedule a Zoom or GoTo Meeting or any video meeting platform and put the standing day and time in everyone’s calendars, so they know when to attend. During the meeting, ask your team members what they accomplished that day. What they didn’t accomplish. And, what they plan to accomplish the next day. These simple questions should give you a good indication of how your team is doing overall.
- Ask IT experts for help
When it comes to big data, cloud and computing, not everyone is an expert. That’s why it’s important to enlist the help of your IT team or engage a third-party IT team to make sure your team members can securely access the information they need. IT experts can make sure you are using appropriate and updated firewalls; they can ascertain whether a VPN is the way to go or can recommend a cloud-based system that is right for you, your team and the overall business. Be sure you don’t take it upon yourself to fix any technology issues, unless you are confident you know how. It is critical for accounting and finance professionals to have uncompromised data to use.
- Be accessible
As a leader, it’s important that your team knows they can reach out to you for questions, concerns or comments. The last thing you want is to be standoffish during this time of crisis. Keeping everyone accountable and productive, including yourself, may mean dipping into a level of micromanagement. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. If your team can access you at any time, it should mean that you can reach out to them just the same. This transparent two-way street of communication will help in the long run.
- Engage and entertain
I’m not saying to become a standup comedian but engaging with your team in a friendly way can keep things light and boost their morale. Don’t be afraid to share a cool industry article, a funny meme (there are plenty out there these days to choose from) or even a Tik Tok (Google it) with your team members, along with asking them about their day. This will ultimately build trust, and likely boost accountability and productivity during a time when it might be hard to do so.
These are just a few tips for holding your accounting team accountable during our new normal of working from home. Have other ideas to share? Comment below.