As business leaders, it is imperative that we adapt to external factors that are likely to impact our business's success. 2020 has undoubtedly been an enormous challenge for many individuals and organisations. We have seen the business landscape completely change as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. So what does this mean for leaders in the way in which they lead their teams?
Pre-Covid, we thought that we were working flexibly; this meant that most people worked in the office with the occasional day working from home. The traditional organisational focus was on vision, mission, purpose. Since Covid, the workplace has become home for many. We all have been put into a vulnerable situation. We invite others into our homes via online meeting forums such as Zoom, while simultaneously managing working from home and potentially home-schooling children. Seeing leaders and our teams in their 'natural habitat' let down some walls that have existed before, and humanising us all by showing us the whole person in which we work with. Organisations have shifted to incorporate resilience, trust, and family to the forefront of leaders and HR's role. It has never been more critical for leaders to maintain their teams' well-being, health, and safety by showing empathy and human fallibility.
Daniel Pink, in his book Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, says, "Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people live richer lives." This is why a culture of trust and connection is vital in the way we work. Individuals feel empowered and are more productive. Some leaders feel uncomfortable not having their team's work visible, so they are micromanaging their team, which erodes trust.
As a leader, how are you building trust with your team? How can you balance empowering your team and supporting them at the same time?
Communication is vital in this uncertain and ever-changing landscape. Provide regular updates on how your business is responding to Covid and consult your team for innovative solutions. Show your vulnerability – explain when you don't have all the answers. Share how you are feeling; it is normal to feel frustrated and energized at the same time.
There are many ways to stay connected to your teams through Covid and working from home. Establish a regular short, daily or weekly, stand-up meeting that allows staff to check-in. Offer a virtual open door; this could be an hour in your day each week where they know they can contact you if they need to you as you will dedicate the time to the team.
During Covid, understanding what is inside and outside your control is important to manage your well-being. So creating structure in the team's day is super important. Use technology like Zoom, Slack & Microsoft Teams to communicate regularly.
Ensure that people have enough time to be productive; there is nothing worse than being in back to back Zoom meetings, not only to avoid Zoom fatigue but so you have time to get work done. Role model a culture of 20 min to 40 min meetings. This gives people time between meetings to reset.
Make the work visible and transparent by using online visual management tools such as Wrike, Trello boards, Planner in Microsoft, or other workflow management tools. This shows individuals who are accountable for what so that they can manage their workload and prioritise.
Health & Wellbeing
Support staff with health and well-being initiatives, e.g., taking regular breaks, team Pilates, or yoga sessions over lunchtime. Promote switching off from work and creating boundaries, the lines can get blurred when working from home, and it is tempting to work longer hours. Longer hours don't always mean productive hours—quality over quantity.
It's crucial that staff feel connected, so create a culture where your camera on a Zoom is the norm - as long as you don't have a bad internet connection. But also understand when people don't feel comfortable having their camera on - they may be dealing with home-schooling children or having a bad day.
As a leader, how are you best supporting your people?
Consultant, Coach & Facilitator at Thriving Culture
Claire is passionate about building high performing teams and people so that they can thrive. She is an accomplished HR Consultant, Coach & Facilitator and has over 15 years experience in Human Resources, Leadership & Organisational Development, and Change Management. Claire works with businesses on their People Strategy to develop their leadership capability, embed a purpose led-culture, and build a high performing team. She holds a Masters of Business (Human Resource Management), a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, and is a certified Facet5 (personality assessment) practitioner. With over 500 coaching hours and accreditation with the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership, Claire works with clients as an Executive/ Leadership coach, career and small business coach.