Managing Smart: Supervising Remotely — It’s Not the Same

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Message from Courtney Demings, Coordinator, Equal Opportunity

Irrevocable is defined as “not to be changed, reversed, or recovered; final.” As a society, we are irrevocably different than we were 10 weeks ago. From working remotely to spouses losing income due to loss of employment, it’s not the same. Parents are teaching their children at home while simultaneously working from home; it’s not the same. We must recognize a painful reality and permit ourselves to grieve.

Ideally, these unique circumstances should challenge us to leave space for grace, particularly between supervisors and employees. What does that mean? We must acknowledge that a paradigm shift has occurred in society and at Valencia College. This shift has left us grappling with uncertainty and questions with complex answers that may take critical time to formulate. It’s fair to state that both supervisors and employees may not have the answers. It’s okay to acknowledge that.

After the acknowledgment, expect that we arrive to work with good intentions. How might we do this? First, review the Peace and Justice Institute’s Principles for How We Treat Each Other and consider this specific principle: “When things get difficult, turn to wonder.” “I wonder why the announcement of extended hours triggered this response in my team?” “I wonder what is happening in their lives.”

Supervising remotely requires employing some of the skills that you used previously, including caring for others and trusting your team. In Coronavirus Outbreak: 9 Steps to Effective One-on-One Meetings, Priya Mahindroo notes that we must address the “very important psychological challenge to deal with — TRUST!” While care builds those connections with your team, trust strengthens them. The author continues, “This situation, hence, requires a neutral and psychologically safe zone where your employees can meet you, share challenges without any inhibitions, provide feedback on how processes can be better, and seek your guidance on handling this newly introduced routine of remote working.”

One may pose this question: What if I didn’t trust this employee before working remotely? To address concerns that led you to lose trust in an employee, supervisors can utilize the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI-I) model when meeting with their employees during one-on-one meetings.

According to the Center for Creative Leadership’s “How to Use Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) to Give Feedback,” this feedback model “is proven to reduce the anxiety of delivering feedback and also reduce the defensiveness of the recipient.” The article continues with the four steps in the SBI process: 1) Situation. Describe the specific situation in which the behavior occurred. 2) Behavior. Describe the actual, observable behavior. 3) Impact. Describe the results of the behavior. 4) Intent. Ask about the person’s original intent. Following these four steps allows the supervisor to provide feedback in “real-time” rather than waiting for a performance review or a Check-In for Faculty Evaluation.

Let’s recap:

  • Leave space for grace and room for good intentions.
  • “Turn to wonder.”
  • Caring for your team builds connections. Trusting your team strengthens connections.
  • Enact one-on-one meetings and try putting the four steps of the SBI-I feedback model into practice so that employees receive prompt feedback for the most effective results.

For more insights, please attend the Supervisor Summit on Friday, May 22, 2020, and review the resources below.

Resources:

Coronavirus Outbreak: 9 Steps to Effective Remote One on One Meetings

Feedback Practices for Employees Working Remotely

Use the SBI Feedback Model to Understand Intent

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