Managing a Large Team Remotely: The Highs and Lows of Staying Connected and Motivated

I’ve been with Cpl 24 years this summer; every day has been an incredible learning opportunity and an interesting challenge – there is nothing I would change about my choice to stay all these years.

I love my job and really enjoy working with all the people in Cpl.  My current role is Managing Director of Cpl’s recruitment divisions across Ireland. In my years with Cpl, I have been through downturns, a serious recession and I’ve seen many changes, but nothing quite as sudden and life-altering as the COVID-19 crisis.

It hit us very fast and took us all by surprise. Initially, when we started working at home, I was sure we would be back in work very soon. That was now 10 weeks ago.

In my role, I am responsible for multiple high-performance specialist teams with almost 200 recruiters in Dublin and throughout Ireland.

The divisions my teams recruit across include a broad sectoral mix of Technology, Financial Services and Accounting, Legal, HR, Marketing, Multilingual, Key Accounts, Sales and Retail, Executive Search and Commercial.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these teams in a variety of ways and has forced each of us to rapidly adapt to remote working.

Managing Large Teams Remotely

If you lead people, or even if you just work with people, you’ll know this comes with daily challenges and as a result of COVID we are faced with a new set of tasks and opportunities. Our teams across Cpl are now, for the vast majority, working from home in varying circumstances.

I am really proud of how our people have adapted. We have working parents who are also home-schooling, people living with housemates or their parents and family members, carers and team members who have had family members impacted by COVID, employees with seen and unseen disabilities, introverts, extroverts and everything in between.

Everyone is important and everyone will respond to change and management techniques in disparate ways.

Our clients and candidates have also been impacted drastically. Many have lost their jobs, are on shorter weeks or the WSS. Its been very tough and we are working hard to stay connected, keep in touch and do all we can to help.

Within Cpl, we’re here to help and along with Cpl’s Future of Work Institute we’ve been hosting regular webinars to inspire and assist leaders and businesses across Ireland and internationally.

Below you’ll find a selection of the challenges we’ve overcome over the past two months, and which Barry Winkless and I will be discussing on May 28th as part of the perspectives on changes webinar series which you can sign up for here.

The Highs and the Lows and What Matters Most

How to keep company culture alive

Cpl is a people business. We work together and we get genuine enjoyment from working and socialising together. We all miss this, it gives us a sense of belonging.

Keeping a sense of culture alive virtually while being empathetic to employees varying situations and workloads is vital and shouldn’t be ignored. Communication is critical to this and we have some great examples of how to make this work from within Cpl.

Tracking productivity and managing trust

Prior to COVID-19 most of our consultants were office-based. We worked together, had daily meetings and it was quite clear who was doing what. We celebrated together and we met our candidates and clients in person. Overall face to face communication was a huge part of our business.

I don’t think we will ever take this for granted again. Working remotely collaboration is a very different beast and trust is essential. In many ways, this has been positive and there are many solutions we’ve incorporated to empower our people and boost productivity and trust even from afar.

Driving success through engagement and empathy

At the moment, as we are all spending most of our time in our homes, it’s essential to be empathetic to employees homelives and situations. Simultaneously we must continue to serve our clients and customers. How can we do both without harming either relationship?

Effective communication

This is one of our Core Values in Cpl and in essence links up all of the above points. Without effective communication culture, trust, engagement and empathy all suffer.

How can we maintain effective communication without seeing our teams? And how can we make sure no one slips through the cracks when managing hundreds of people?

Keeping up positivity and addressing loneliness 

As individuals, we find momentum in different ways. For many of us being around people and developing relationships at work is what motivates us and gives us a greater sense of belonging.

A chance run-in with a colleague in the canteen can lift spirits or help solve a niggling issue. How can we replicate this in a work from home situation?

Within the Cpl Group, our wonderful HR and IT teams have been instrumental in helping us answer many of these questions. We also have 30 years of experience between us and passionate people on each of our teams who care about each other and our mission as a company.

Join Cpl Strategy Director Barry Winkless and I next week on the Perspectives in Times of Change this Thursday for the answers to these questions and more. Register here.