CEO and Co-Founder of SBX Group.
As many of us have been working from home for months due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen the world change drastically — from the state of the economy to how we work on a daily basis. The effects of this pandemic have uprooted the traditional workplace environment and how we communicate with each other. As leaders, it is our role to not only put plans in place to adapt to the current situation, but also to reassure our teams and guide them through these uncertain times. As such, these are some fundamental areas to address:
State Of Staff
One of your most important functions as a leader is to know your staff. Ensure that you know what drives them, how they operate and their particular skill sets, as well as when they are (and are not) in a healthy state. News headlines, social media, high unemployment rates and anxiety stemming from what’s going around them, as well as thoughts that this won’t end anytime soon, can cause additional stress for your team. Checking in is key. Asking questions to see how staff members are feeling or handling the situation will help you better understand their mindset so that you may be able to guide and support them.
Being flexible and compassionate is an important element in keeping your team productive and feeling acknowledged. Some staff members might not have the right setup to work from home. They might be doing double or triple duty as a teacher and daytime caregiver for their kids, or they may be struggling in their home situation. Let them know you understand, and set alternative expectations and timelines that work for both of you.
Yes, the world is upside down right now. But that doesn’t mean your business is on hold indefinitely. Although some business drivers could go away for the time being or even altogether, there is an opening for your business to identify future growth opportunities and diversify with the changing climate and demands. Focus on what will remain after this pandemic, and work toward that.
Now is the time to get creative. Analyze your business, and start building a plan for each division and team member. Then execute it. Create an internal system for accountability: Set clear roles, measurable goals and expectations. In a time of uncertainty, structure can provide a much-needed sense of comfort and security. Set timelines for evaluation and measurement along the way to assess how plans are working for the company and for your team, and identify whether items need to be adjusted to react to market conditions.
Communication And Team Time
While many people are still practicing social distancing, look at creating a new template for communication and preserving team morale. Emails are good, and phone calls are great, but video calls are even better. Make sure you find the time to have video meetings when possible to connect with your team and literally “show face.”
Try implementing ongoing digital team gatherings to catch up and socialize like you did before. Our team does this through our Friday “shoot the breeze” video meetings, where we openly discuss current news, fun videos we’ve seen, uplifting community campaigns and how everyone is doing.
Be Open And Honest
Overdelivering on communication is imperative for your team’s sense of purpose and engagement right now. While what is going on with the world is not something we can control, being honest and consistent about the company’s situation is. Rather than letting questions build and go unanswered, schedule a companywide meeting or individual team meetings to clarify the company’s stance and address any concerns. You can also address how each staff member can grow and be part of the organization’s next steps. This can provide your team with clarity, empowerment and the ability to see the situation from a positive lens.
We will remember this pandemic for a while, and your team will no doubt reflect on how you dealt with the situation and managed them during this time. Your actions and what you focus on right now will define your leadership in the eyes of your staff as well as the business community in the future.
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Author: Danny Fritz, Forbes Councils Member