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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Tip 2 for the Remote Manager – Provide structure

Project Management Forum
People need structure!

“I thrive in structure. I drown in chaos.” Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody

“Structure significantly influences behavior, thereby dramatically impacting results.” Chris Hutchinson, Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership that Works

People need structure.

The alarm clock goes off and the ritual begins! We turn off the alarm, get the coffee started and take a quick shower. We take care of our grooming needs, pick the right outfit for the day, and head out the door ready for business!

Except now we don’t.

With so many of us working from home, the pattern has been disrupted and the ritual dramatically shortened. I suspect many people’s new pattern involves getting out of bed, grabbing a cup of coffee and logging into the work computer. Why put on a nice outfit when I can work in a comfortable t-shirt? Why shave every day when no one sees me anyway?

Because those rituals change your mindset! Whatever you did before COVID-19, do that now!

The need for structure is also important at the organizational level. Immediately after my company issued a “work from home” order, I met virtually with my leadership team and came up with a plan to provide structure for both ourselves and our technical experts.

We kept in place as many of our structured activities as were practical. For example, employee reviews, appraisals and briefing schedules were kept in place.

We put in place structured calls at each level of the organization and are open and transparent about all the enterprise developments around COVID-19. We honestly discuss our personal experiences with COVID-19 and provide an opportunity for others to share their experiences. We also use these calls to identify emerging issues. We share those issues with the appropriate experts and track and control every issue until we have either have resolution or an answer.

We distribute a monthly newsletter where we discuss, on a personal level, how people are coping with COVID-19. An example of this is a very popular series focused on “Pandemic Hobbies”. The newsletter helps everyone to realize that this is a shared experience and we are all going through it together.

I scheduled weekly “check in” meetings with my direct reports. While these are short calls with no agenda, it is amazing how much you can learn about personal and professional challenges.

Finally, we have recurring electronic “town hall” meetings where we discuss organizational activities and the provide the technicians with an opportunity to discuss their concerns.

These may seem like small things, but they are needed! Many leaders forget that their employees have needs and concerns, and those leaders eventually lose the teams support.

It is not just about the work. It is about the people. Care about them and respect their concerns, and you will be rewarded with high engagement and performance.


I am going to share my personal experience with “cancel culture”. I have been carefully analyzing the tools and techniques used by the Machiavellian leader of the nonprofit that I was volunteering for. Until you have experienced it, you can’t imagine how it feels. I’m going to break it down so you will be equipped to deal with it should it happened to you!


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