Remember how big your team is.
By now, just about anyone in the world of cubicles and conference rooms has experienced life changing events. The pandemic drove millions of employees home to work. I have kept in touch with many of my clients for the last several months, and as a result have collected many ideas to help leaders leading others through this unprecedented time. In no order, I present them here:
- Be human. Recognize that everyone of your employees is likely dealing with this differently than ever other employee. Spend time with them. Schedule more one-on-ones. Don’t just talk about work. Talk about families, hobbies, and interests. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the tough questions, like, “How is this situation impacting you?”
- Introverts vs. extroverts. Recognize that different personalities have different needs. Your introverts may be thrilled about more private alone time while your extroverts are going crazy because they want interaction.
- Work time. Encourage employees to shut off email and message apps for extended periods of time so they can think and create. (Editorial comment – I believe one of the worst things we’ve invented is instant messaging apps. They encourage bad behaviors, set up unrealistic expectations, and have contributed to the destruction of our ability to think critically.)
- No 24/7. Don’t expect your employees to be on call 24/7. Working from home adds different stressors employees are not accustomed to – especially if they have small children at home.
- Meetings. Now, more than ever, your meetings must have solid agenda items with clear objectives. They must be tightly facilitated. Some meetings are bad enough when they are in person. They are exponentially worse when conducted virtually.
- Encourage social time. Have one meeting a week where there is no structured agenda – at least for part of it. Give employees a chance to catch up with each other. Keep it informal. Also, encourage other social time together. For example, do a Zoom happy hour from time-to-time.
- Focus on purpose. Keep your organization’s purpose out in front. With added distractions, it will be more difficult for employees to focus. Help them by reinforcing your organization’s purpose.
- Recognize struggles. Know that some employees are going to have difficulties with this situation. They may have a relative or friend dealing with the virus. Children are now at home. Elderly parents are at higher risk. It’s a long list and we have already witnessed the mental health impacts. Keep Employee Assistance Program information available.
- Be an example. Follow these or other guidelines and make it as visible as appropriate. For example, you don’t need to tell employees the details of your morning routine but letting them know how yours has changed helps keep the human element visible.
As we continue to proceed through many unknowns, your role as a leader, and just being human, is critical to the health and safety of others. This means both physically and mentally. Our thoughts are with you as together, we lead through these crazy times.
I always welcome phone calls and emails. Let me know if you’d like to talk. Anytime. (Hint, I’m an extrovert)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.
Dedicated to your safe and healthy transformation through this unprecedented time,