Managers... We Need to Talk

During social distancing, I haven’t been interacting with a lot of people. My partner, mom, sister, a couple of coworkers. 3 out of 4 of them heard this from their boss over the course of the week as it relates to our sudden work from home situation:

  • “Remember, you’re working.”

  • “Our numbers are up, but we have to make sure people aren’t playing on their phones.”

  • “I’ll need a status report at the end of each day so I know what you’re doing.”


Social distancing and work from home due to the COVID-19 prevention measures is certainly new, scary, and unknown. Luckily, most of us have tools to help us get through the logistics part, but what about the human part?

We’re working from home, and yes: some of us will step away, take a walk, watch some Netflix, or game on our console of choice. It’s the alternative to what you used to feel safe with: grabbing a coffee, wandering the cube farm to chat with our peers, and surfing the web when we need a breather (don’t even try to tell me you don’t do that).

And it’s still true that, according to 2019 Gallup, on average only 33% of employees are actively engaged. That’s in office, or at home, people! (Are you starting to see this isn’t a new problem?)

I pose this question: If you can’t trust your employees now, did you trust them in the office? How can we ensure efforts towards trust building and also accountability? If we focus on these questions instead of “how can we obtain status and use spreadsheets to prove productivity?” the outcome will be mutual respect and less posturing and maneuvering.

A challenge for you this week: Try a different approach. Try giving each one of your direct reports a call and ask them how they’re doing during this time. How’s their family, their home? What have they noticed with the change of working from home? How can you help? Share some of your struggles, too. After that phone call is over, the trust built is immeasurable.

The truth is, I believe we all have positive intentions and we try to show up and be our best. I offer you an alternative to what is not working.

My name is Kim Linton, I’m the owner of 1Light Daring Leadership & Facilitation. I teach both individuals and teams how to work better together. If you want to become a better leader, let’s set up time.

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