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4 Best Practices From Harry Potter To Manage And Engage a Remote Workforce

Are we ready for the new normal after the normalcy restores? Yes. Well, no. This would be the answer because few organizations have embraced remote working, and many companies are waiting for the lockdown period to get over to get back to the office. Remote working is the dark magic to traditional companies that enters the modernized world, and the lockdown period is seen as the ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ (Voldemort) as it imposes remote working on the traditional companies too. However, the companies were heretofore dubious of the success of remote working but not anymore as they have discovered their potential in this stringent confinement month.   

“We will be facing a new normal, as the long lockdown periods have dispelled many of the notions associated with effectiveness issues while working from home.”   

-Suresh Narayanan, CMD, Nestle India   

The main concerns of the companies that are not adaptable are lower productivity and profitability. Trust your employees and plan engagement activities to keep your employees active and satisfied. Happy and engaged employees help organizations to be resilient even in an unprecedented situation. In regular employment, it is much easier to arrange recreational activities to entertain and motivate employees. But for remote employees, there is no elixir of engagement as the Felix Felicis in Harry Potter that brings luck to whoever consumes it. Here are a few analogies to Harry Potter to help you understand better and create a strategy to engage your team. 

Set Clear Expectations  

72% of millennials who strongly agree that their manager helps them establish performance goals are engaged. And across all generations, individuals who strongly agree that their manager helps them set performance goals are nearly eight times more likely to be engaged than if they strongly disagree with the statement.”  

Source: Gallup  

Hogwarts in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” clearly instructed the champions selected for the second task to return within an hour with the thing that has been taken from them. As the champions were clearly aware of what is expected out of them, they stayed on their track and fought for their friends who were in a hostage situation.  

A remote workforce is no different from those champions if they are clear of the expectations set upon them. The time-bound SMART goals make the remote employees more committed to and engaged in their work, and they can assess the situation and try harder to achieve the set goals. Engaged employees emotionally invest in the work and produce quality work. Besides, it will be best if you take the inputs of employees to set the targets as they would feel more valued.  

Continuous check-ins to help employees grow and learn  

In Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, Harry Potter did an excellent job in forming a team and coaching them. He watched over when the team was practicing and working on perfecting their spells. Harry coached them instantly whenever they made a mistake. That had a remarkable effect on the team when they fought against the dark lord’s forces.  

“To become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals in their working relationships. Direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it.”  

– Ed Batista  

A manager should also instantly deliver feedback to the employees to engage them and help them identify the gaps in their performance. Thus, employees motivate themselves and work to improve their skills. Besides, the continuous check-ins help the team to achieve the goals within the stipulated time and delight their superiors and customers. Use tech tools to eliminate the recency effect and relentlessly collaborate with your remote team members. The remote employees will also be able to perform better as they know the answer to the most haunting question in their minds “how do I perform?” through continuous check-ins.

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Manager – An Inspiring Coach rather than a Nagging Boss  

The first book “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” brilliantly portrays the impending failure when the commander nags the workers. You-Know-Who lingered and nagged professor Quirrell without trusting him with the task. He had no choice because it was his only way of survival as he was not powerful enough. That can be compared to manager’s ineffective planning. Managers, because of their inefficacious strategies, pressure and nag the remote employees, put them in a stressful condition and lower their productivity.   

Contrarily, Dumbledore showed the path to Harry: the only way to destroy the dark lord is to destroy the Horcruxes. Even after Dumbledore’s death, Harry Potter felt his presence and followed his guidance in his path to the destination. Dumbledore also provided Ron and Hermione the necessary equipment to reach the destination. That’s how manager-remote employees’ relationships should be. You should coach the employees and provide them with the necessary tech tools to work efficiently and remotely. They should not be lost and should be able to follow your guidance and direction.  

Managers should also listen to the concerns of the employees like Dumbledore listens to Harry Potter’s concerns all the time. Action should be taken on the employees’ concerns to build mutual trust and respect.  

 Don’t Let Your Employees Feel Isolated  

Imagine yourself living alone in a room under the staircase like Harry Potter. Isn’t the situation, which the remote employees are in, almost the same? Remote working is a novel situation for many organizations. How would employees feel? They have to work remotely with no one around to clarify doubts, have small talk, accompany to tea breaks during office hours. Clearly, employees will lack direction in this continuing lockdown period. Engagement is absolutely necessary to not lose your employees and protect the calm mental state of employees.   

What Ron would have done? Well, he stole his father’s flying car to save Harry from the dangers of isolation. But we have more advanced technology than a flying (that may malfunction anytime) car. Virtual coffee breaks, virtual informal meetings, and Virtual team games are a few of the many available solutions. ‘Virtual’ cannot be changed, but things done virtually can be changed. Plan activities that suit your team better but never let them alone. 

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