Are self-aware managers more supportive in remote working scenarios?
Yes, they are!
My research found that levels of perceived self-awareness correlate with perceived levels of manager support in remote work scenarios.
The 43 questions were broken down into 16 questions to assess perceived manager self-awareness and 27 questions to assess perceived manager support. Self-awareness questions align with academically acceptable definitions of self-awareness in relation to emotional intelligence research. Supportive manager questions align with research on supportive management behaviors as an element of effective management.
The percentage of respondents who perceived their manager to be self-aware was 80.2% and the percentage of respondents who perceived their manager to be supportive was 79.3%.
Self-aware behaviors that received the most positive response included managers knowing what they find professionally rewarding at 100%, knowing what they find personally rewarding at 98%, having values that are important to them at 96.5%, and knowing why they were successful at something at 95.7%. Self-aware behaviors receiving the lowest perception included the inability to detect how others feel about them at 67.2%, knowing their weakness at 73%, and the ability to predict how the follower will react to them at 73.3%.
Supportive behaviors that received the most positive response included managers granting time off at 98% and managers allowing followers to manage their own work schedule at 94.6%. Also noted as receiving highly positive responses included managers communicating in an open and direct manner at 87.4%, and managers working with followers collaboratively at 86.5%. Supportive behaviors receiving the lowest perception included managers giving clear direction at 75.7%, managers providing a clear expectation of responsibilities, and managers second-guessing follower decisions both at 73%.
Current Remote Work Situation
Manager Challenges in Remote Work Scenarios
The lack of physical opportunities to observe, communicate, and connect with employees can lead to communication, teamwork, productivity, and employee development challenges. In this day and age of remote working platforms that allow for on-the-fly meetings and a myriad of options for virtual collaboration, managers still find it hard to create team synergy. Even a drop-by Zoom cannot replace passing a colleague by chance in the hallway.
And all this new technology poses another set of tensions and challenges to overcome including the pressure to be available 24/7 and the added pressure to perfect these new technology platforms.
Suggestions to Improve Self-awareness
Soliciting feedback from followers can take the shape of 360 reviews or open ad-hoc discussions. Mindfulness training has been closely linked to self-awareness and it has been determined that even 10 minutes of mindfulness training could enhance self-awareness by 35%. The means taking regular breaks to look out the window, close your eyes, journal, or walk up and down a hallway is all you need to start! It is further suggested to intentionally pay full attention when others are talking to allow yourself to identify cues of concern and opinion.
New research touting the value of asking yourself what instead of why is worth considering. It is typical in self-reflection to ask why – why did I say that, why did I do that, etc. Questions of why can bring up negative feelings and curb confidence. Consider asking what – what happened, what prompted me to say what I did, what could I have done differently.
Suggestions to Supportively Navigate Remote Work Scenarios
Baseline guidance is consistent with common managerial advice such as communicate often and transparently, plan, establish feedback loops and pay attention to information sharing. Solutions targeted to mitigate the challenges unique to remote working scenarios fall into the categories of technology management, policy development, and professional development.
First and foremost, employees must have the technology they need to do their work and to communicate inside and outside their organization; and there must be support for this technology. In addition, to make it easy to communicate and less boring, multiple methods are recommended with clear norms of when to use email or Zoom or Slack for example.
To ensure success, policy should be in place that defines qualifications for remote work scenarios, and protocol around the remote work environment should be shared.
The introduction of remote working scenarios should be supported by professional development sessions that prepare managers for the nuances of managing remotely, introduces opportunities for mentorship that can be more challenging when folks are not at the same physical location, and ensures equal growth opportunities.