Hello everyone, this is Tom Hallett from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast.
In today’s podcast, I’m going to be talking about leading your team in our weird pandemic world!
While some of you are experiencing high levels of performance and commitment from your team like you have never seen before, others feel like they are an extra in the matrix and don’t know whether to take the red or the blue pill!
So, with such a diverse spectrum of experience, where can you start and what can you do?
Before I get into the subject of leading in our current post-pandemic world – if, you are new here… Welcome!
By the way, you’ll find a transcription of our podcast over on the Excel Communications website.
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So, let’s talk about leadership in these extreme circumstances. For many of us, we are experiencing our first taste of being a virtual leader.
I don’t know about you, but it’s not as easy as it’s made out to be – is it!?
I’m pretty sure you think the same, as recently we have run several taster sessions on managing a virtual team that have been oversubscribed. By the way, if you are interested in attending one of our taster training sessions, email me – Tom.Hallett@excel-communications.com.
Many leaders we work with are putting both the business and the welfare of their people as equal priorities.
Logical I know, but not everyone considers this as fundamental to their decision-making process.
Many organisations aren’t even moving back into their offices until 2021, and that isn’t just Google and Facebook.
A recent HBR post outlined a three-phase business approach which logically can also be mapped over to how you lead your people. Let me talk through how by sharing phase one.
Shock and React Phase – Do What is Needed and What Is Right
As I record this, we have now surpassed 100 days in lockdown, so the initial shock phase is over. The vast majority of companies have navigated this well, when you consider the speed and restrictions placed on all of us, from being “instructed” to work from home where possible to 2-meter rules.
Then our children were sent home from school, with their daytime care and schooling being placed on our doorstep!… not entirely I know, though I am sure you get what I am referring to here.
For many of us, this has started true authentic communication with our team too.
Using video rather than just written communication, establishing office hours, having regular coffee time, and providing direct access to leaders and colleagues.
Organisations are being flexible with working hours as mums and dads try to share parenting duties together around their work commitments. This works both ways with many employees working into the night to ensure they to ‘do their bit’ to keep things moving.
Flexibility was key here and continues to be so as we move through the various phases as we recover.
Now we are all in phase two and likely to remain there for the next few months at least.
Prepare for the Reset and Restart Phase
As the ‘stay at home’ message in the U.K. moved to ‘stay alert’ (I won’t get into the debate about clarity of communication here!) employers were encouraged to move back to work.
There were caveats with this around public transport and safety, of course, but many companies are now starting to open.
The truth here is that all managers need to ensure the continued safety of both their employees and the financial health of the business.
…… and navigating all this while handling how people have changed….. which they have.
Let me explain.
Many employees have been working from home and are super keen to get back to the office; and others, not so.
Over 100 days people have experienced new realisations about what they want and don’t want in life, and they will have developed their own new norm.
Let’s not forget that you, their manager, might have had the same experience too!
Reset and restart must start with a conversation with your team individually and collectively – checking in where everybody’s at is critical; this must include your furloughed employees too.
Whether you and your team are in the office or working from home, we are most definitely in the reset phase.
Honesty and transparency as a leader are critical here if your business has been ‘battered’ by the pandemic. You must communicate where you are.
Conveying that the world is changing and that your company will be “resetting” vs just “restarting,” and highlighting that some things are not changing such as the company’s core focus and values will be critical here.
Earlier I talked about flexibility, and this is just as key here.
Not all your team will react in the same way, and some might have unique challenges of their own.
Some might be fearful of coming back into the office, and others simply can’t because they have no childcare.
Let’s be real here, some of your employees might have lost loved ones, and alongside everything else is struggling with grief.
A friend of mine calls the reset phase, the ‘can of worms scenario!’
Why? Because the reality is that the deeper conversations people want to have are sometimes being hidden away and only come to the surface when a decision is made like “we are moving back to the office next week”.
Suddenly then an individual has to confront what they are thinking.
Handle the New Reality
The new reality phase might be some time away.
What we are experiencing now is different from 2008. We are dealing with a virus, and potentially there could be a ‘cure/vaccine’ available as early as Q1 in 2021.
For the first time, there is a global priority to develop a vaccine so who knows how fast this could be developed – though I do have a big question mark on this one. I would be delighted to be proved wrong, though!
With so much uncertainty on the horizon, the ability to lead through unsettled times is a critical skill to develop. In the past, we have written about Agile leadership, and I’ll drop a link into the transcription for you as this leadership attribute needs to be top of your list as a skill to develop.
In times of great change, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here is a thought for you: what if something better could be on the horizon?
Food for thought, don’t you think?
If you would like support in navigating your way through leading your team in this uncertain time, please get in touch. You can email me directly (give your email), or if you want more information about our digital training programmes – head to our website, I’ll leave a link in the comments.
This is Tom from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast Saying bye for now.
Until next time!
About Excel Communications
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