Leading and working together from a distance, compulsory homeworking, social distancing measures, … Just like you, your employees experience fear and insecurity, experience an unnatural distance between themselves and their colleagues, their manager (you), and their work.
So how in the world can you make sure that they still do a good job? How do you keep them healthy and motivated? What is it that you have to do vis-à-vis your employees? How can you be of service to your employees in this crisis?
3 essential matters:
Guidance and direction
Like a ship in a storm, the crew needs guidance and direction more than ever. No long term goals, but rather what needs to be done now to get through this storm. Being direct and clear about the tasks that are to be done right now. You could draw up this list together with your team if you want to, but it’s imperative that you have a to-do list.
Who does what? By when? How much time can it take?
A clear output-oriented framework. No targets too high and too far away, for that is ‘beyond the storm’.
To do: – Draw up (possibly in consultation) a list of short-term assignments that you can give to anyone. Divide responsibilities, check ownership, keep everyone focused.
Coaching and support
In addition to leadership, people also need coaching and support. Now, more than ever, be attentive to their fear and insecurity, to them as human beings, to the difficult combination of work and private life. And just as they always do, people also need support in carrying out their tasks. Appreciation, solving a problem together, gaining knowledge, sharing knowledge with each other, …
If until now you had no set times in your agenda for 1-1 conversations with your employees, then it is imperative you change that habit. If you already have dates in your agenda, then double the duration of these meetings.
To do: From now on, set an appointment for each team member every week/2 weeks/month
Start each conversation with the question: How are you doing? Take your time for the answer.
Take a look at the list of tasks and review together. Point out successes and provide support where necessary.
Connection and understanding
People need connection and understanding. Now, more than ever.
Going through it together. That is what helps people go through hard times. This is also what we see today during the corona crisis: in the hospitals, the residential care centres, …
If you didn’t already have regular team meetings, then it’ s definitely time to organise them online. Zoom or Teams are ideal tools for this purpose.
If you have already organised team meetings, then take a critical look at how they are conducted and what is on the agenda. Monologues and information meetings are not bringing people together. Yet sharing knowledge, supporting each other, solving a problem together, do.
Always start with a roundabout: How do you feel right now? How are you doing? If appropriate, be the first to openly answer this question yourself. It will break the ice and set the tone.
Give people an opportunity to share, including personal matters. Make time for it.
Put successes and knowledge sharing on the agenda. Make buddies for certain projects or problems. Make sure people don’t have to work on their own and that they feel connected with each other.
To do: schedule team meetings and follow the tips mentioned above.
The above three points are essential aspects of leadership. They are things that you, as a manager, should always do. These times bring us back to what is plain and essential, especially when it comes to leadership. It pulls things into focus. Leading from a distance is to commit twice as hard to the essence of leadership. Leadership to the squared power. The corona crisis tests your leadership and if you look closely, it shows you what you are doing well and what you should improve. I hope this blog is helpful in that respect.