From follow-up to mentoring | Psychology today



The COVID pandemic has profoundly changed the workplace for many businesses and organizations. Perhaps the biggest impact has been on office-centric industries with a sudden global shift towards remote working. Recent global surveys have found that remote workers have increased their productivity and satisfaction (Prodoscore, 2021).

The switch to remote work for executives was not greeted with the same satisfaction as the employee. Why is that? The answer can be rooted in both management’s mistrust of employees and managers’ concerns about their role and usefulness in the new workplace.

Remote managers can be wary of their employees.

Parker and colleagues (2020) surveyed 1,200 people, employees and managers, in 24 countries across a variety of industries, including education, manufacturing, science, real estate, and financial services. Almost 60 percent of supervisors did not seem to have much confidence in their remote supervisees. A large percentage of supervisors thought remote workers performed worse than those in the office (38%), and some managers were unsure (22%). When asked if remote workers can stay motivated over time, again, a large percentage were skeptical (41%) or just unsure (17%).

Remote managers may lack confidence or think they are no longer needed.

Parker and his colleagues suggest that this sudden push into the new remote workplace has left managers in a dilemma. Face-to-face management strategies in the office do not translate into a telecommuting environment. This skepticism about the effectiveness of those they managed remotely was accompanied by a low self-confidence of supervisors in their ability to manage these workers (40%). These findings have led Parker and his colleagues to identify a lack of self-efficacy in their ability to manage remote workers, which may fuel management mistrust.

Spyware is used to reduce anxiety about the productivity of remote workers and perform the management role.

Mistrust of remote workers can also lead to increased follow-up. Laker and colleagues (2020) studied the increase in close monitoring of remote employees as justified by employers as the need to control productivity. These efforts included installing monitoring software or “tattleware” programs on their work computers. And in a tit-for-tat dance of distrust, there has been a boom in anti-surveillance software by employees to thwart these efforts.

Laker and his colleagues note that the effect of such scrutiny has been distrust on both sides, as well as the deepening of the division between workers and managers. Overzealous monitoring of the teleworker can also lead to a toxic work environment. Parker and colleagues found that workers who underwent high levels of remote monitoring (frequent employee monitoring) often or always felt anxious while working (49%) and experienced strong interference with their job or their job. family life due to the expectation of work managers meant they were “always on”.

See remote management through the lens of leadership growth opportunities.

Laker and his colleagues have suggested that companies should focus on collaboration and empowerment, not monitoring, and this should be based on the confidence of employees to manage their productivity. This is forcing managers to develop a paradigm shift, from 20th century workplace surveillance (overseeing banks of 9-5 workers locked in cubicles) to the 21st century remote workplace, which is flexible and valued. employee autonomy. Rather than closing opportunities for managers, remote work management can actually expand their roles in new ways. Just as the remote workplace has brought a sense of self-determination to the employee by improving autonomy and an internal locus of control, remote management offers similar opportunities for psychological growth and efficiency.

From follow-up to mentoring

Rather than ‘trainers’, the remote workplace offers managers the opportunity to become ‘mentors’. While the “nuts and bolts” of mentoring differ from organization to organization, the underlying goal of mentoring is that of a collaborative mindset to achieve common goals. For managers, there is a unique leadership opportunity in the evolving areas of work-life balance and work motivation of those they supervise remotely.

Another opportunity in distance management mentoring is to set ambitious goals as part of the performance standards. As virtual workers may be able to accomplish more in less time due to the absence of office distractions (eg, coworkers interrupting for a “quick consultation” or “conversation”) and more energy (no travel time), this in turn can provide the cognitive and emotional “space” for setting such a goal.

From monitoring to meaning

Gagné and Deci (2005) note that motivation and job satisfaction have long been linked to environments that promote both extrinsic motivation (such as salary increases or other rewards) and intrinsic motivation (such as ‘a sense of control and meaning at work). Transformational leadership can be particularly impactful in remote management and reinforce the sense of managers in their new roles. The basic “four I’s” of this leadership style: idealized influence (ie serving as a role model); intellectual stimulation (i.e. challenging the status quo, encouraging creativity, exploring new ways of doing things); inspirational stimulation (ie articulation of clear vision); and individualized consideration (ie, open and supportive lines of communication) —can be easily incorporated into virtual management (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

A recent review of the literature (Vought, 2017) noted that this leadership style could be implemented in several areas of remote management, such as virtual team building groups and the use of technology to streamline work and improve creativity. Virtual managers can be role models of a “virtual label” for resolving conflict and providing a culture that builds trust through sharing rather than hoarding information. Individualized consideration can be achieved by providing remote employees with virtual “face-to-face” access to leaders.

Remote work management is a new world. Rather than being motivated by mistrust and impulses to control and spy, remote work management offers the possibility of using technological gains to foster employee loyalty and engagement. By adopting such values, leaders are likely to be energized by their new role. The sense of meaning at work fills a deep psychological motivation to lead a meaningful life. When viewed from the perspective of motivation and satisfaction, what drives people to work hard and be happy is not just flexibility, but work that resonates with core values ​​and goals. . This is as true for the manager as it is for those who are managed.


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