These past few weeks have been an unprecedented time as we navigate through the changes brought about by the response to COVID-19. As we work to find a new normal in our working lives, we’re faced with challenges unlike any other we have faced before.
As you have probably already experienced, this time calls for leaders to help the teams they work in new and important ways. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- According to the Society of Human Resources Management, many employees are looking to their employers about the state of the response to COVID-19. In addition to news sources, employees are seeking their employers understanding and insight on the situation.
- Huge swaths of the workforce have just started working from home. This new normal requires a period of adjustment and brings a new set of challenges. It’s important that managers are flexible, staying connected to their teams and that teams are staying connected with each other.
- Now more than ever, leadership calls for a deeper sense of empathy. Everyone’s situation is different. One employee may be struggling to work from home while balancing homeschooling. Another employee may struggle with the new structure of a virtual workday. Someone else on the team may be dealing with a layoff or reduced hours for a significant other. Whatever the individual situations maybe, the one thing they all have in common is an elevated level of stress and fear.
- The behaviors that leaders display during this has a tremendous impact on how their teams perform and how their team members feel right now. Not just about their work, but also about the COVID-19 response.
To be effective, leaders must manage themselves with resilience, empathy and patience and help build that resilience on the team. This is easier said than done since leaders are also experiencing much of the uncertainty and anxiety.
The good news is, there are several very practical and straightforward things leaders can do.
- Stay informed with news from credible sources. Be ready to discuss the latest developments with your teams. Remember, it’s ok to not have answers to everything. The important thing here is to impart factual information.
- If the team is transitioning from working at the office to working at home, be flexible and communicative. Yes, performance expectations need to be addressed at some point, but first, give team members an opportunity to get into a routine, make sure their technology is working and be available to answer questions and provide support.
- The team will remember your actions during this time. As leaders, the focus is taking care of the people. Be transparent, even with the tough stuff. Establish a communication routine, like a virtual team huddle at 10:00 and a company operations update email at 3:00.
As always, Pathfinder Strategies is here to support you. Our job is to help leaders and managers through challenges so they can lead their teams successfully. If you’re looking for support or an ear to listen, give me a call at 888-529-0240 or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also love to hear your suggestion or success stories for leading during this time.