We are in one of the most challenging times I can recall with pressure from many directions, much of it beyond our control. How we act and react will have an impact on the outcome for us, for our employees and for our organizations. The time you invest now establishing the appropriate plan of action will determine how prepared you are when things get better (and they will)!
What does the new world look like?
- Social distancing is changing organizational dynamics and relationships
- Virtual is the new norm
- Changes are coming almost daily
- We are still reacting to external forces
As you approach today’s challenges and determine how to address them, think about Winston Churchill’s comment “it is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” Leaders need to help keep focus on what can be controlled, not what you as a leader would like to control or other “what if’s”. Today the short-term eclipses the long-term!
How to act
Employees need to trust your organization. So do customers. Act in a manner that earns and retains this trust. Show what you stand for. The current challenges have an impact on everyone, but often in different ways. Make certain what you do is a team effort; your team is comprised of human beings who have emotional needs. Leadership includes considering these needs. Remember, they look to you for leadership, but they also look to your “human side” and your personal support. Everyone is going through the same challenges, yet these challenges may have a different impact on them. You have an opportunity to show each team member and each customer how important they are to your organization.
It is different for everyone
Working remotely has been around for some time, but it has only been a concept for most of the workforce. Suddenly each individual has a new perspective because she is sitting at a different desk. Today’s separation eliminates informal communications that have been an important part of many organizations. This lack of informal communications can result in feelings of isolation.
Communications are perhaps the most important tool that leaders have available today. Develop a communications plan that not only passes along information necessary to do the job, but that also engages each individual and encourages her input. Listen to what she says, and how she says it. Including everyone keeps them part of the team. A team is more powerful than the sum of the individual members. Make decisions quickly, even if you don’t have all the data you would prefer. Address requirements for today, then for the future; after all, you have to survive today for that future to exist.
For anyone who has been working an 8- hour day in an office, the challenges of working remotely may include what to focus on. Provide guidance in terms of short- term goals and priorities. Everyone wants to contribute. Help them understand what is important. Contributions are not based on the time spent. If it only takes 4 hours, encourage them to spend the extra time doing something for themselves, their family, or friends.
Prepare for the future
The right steps taken today will lay a sound foundation for when you can have more influence on the outcomes. Keeping your employees engaged during this challenging time will place your organization in a strong position when things turn around. Encouraging each individual to use this time to learn something new or do something she has wanted to do will help her use the time productively. View the current situation differently, embrace the ambiguity, and be flexible. Help everyone grow. Most leaders rely on different styles of leadership, depending on the situation. This is a time when compassionate, collaborative leadership may be most effective.
Alan Weiss noted so eloquently in his current newsletter: “This, too, shall pass. We will resume our lives and businesses, hopefully somewhat wiser and kinder. The question is never about what’s happened to us. The question is always about what we’re going to do about it.”
Make the most you can of this difficult time, and your organization will emerge in a stronger position, ready to tackle the new world.