Leadership matters most—and is hardest to do well—when the ways of working we are used to are no longer possible, and when uncertainty abound. These are relentless facts of life for many leaders who feel heightened responsibility for their people as a result of the COVID crisis.
One of the most challenging parts of this crisis is that, despite the overwhelming desire for a perfect plan to reenergise the organisation, there simply isn’t one. Leaders who accept this fact are able to manage the engagement and performance of their teams, taking an adaptive approach that allows them to discover their way to solutions.
Such an approach starts with a much deeper and more holistic form of listening than organisations are used to.
Listen deeply for signs of isolation, exhaustion and other natural responses to stress
In addition to talking directly to employees, leaders can also rely on collecting data via surveys or pulse checks. In doing so, it is important to also gauge mental-health and well-being. Tracking this sort of data helps organisations get more sophisticated about what employees are most in need, and what needs are most acute.
Equally important to how leaders listen is how often they listen. It’s not enough to launch a few efforts and then act. Leaders must listen continually, taking a regular pulse on how employees are doing. This will be especially important over the next year, as employee moods and needs are bound to fluctuate, with the potential for great impact.
When people believe that a leader cares about their well-being, commitment, and success, it helps them move from that room called fear to that room called hope.
Another best practice to focus and reenergise the organisation, is to bring structure.
Look to install new team habits to help fuel better communication and collaboration, especially from a distance.
Leaders and employees have to work more intentionally to build and maintain relationships. Scheduling virtual “team huddles” provides an opportunity for team members to check in with each other and to better understand when and how to reach out to each other.
We have a team who decided to run a check-in meeting of 15 min every morning. In this meeting, they expressed their deliverables for the day and where they needed assistance. They also committed to talk about the elephant in the room, topics such as mood and well-being. After some first uncomfortable sessions, this team transformed from a collective of hardworking individuals to a group that was hungry to help each other to deliver and to feel good about themselves. Out of this small intervention – the installation of a simple habit – a group emerged with a robust set of new rules. The morning routine is one of the crucial facets of how you perform during the day
You can have as many presentations, trainings and tools as you want, in the end, people adapt their behaviour based on what they observe in the behaviour of others.
If you can trigger the behavior in a team to reach out to each other for both tasks and wellbeing, and turn it into a habit, then you will eventually create a remote work culture. The culture often grows on top of some game rules that might look trivial at first.
You are what you repeatedly do…
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