As a result of Covid-19, we are all going through an unprecedented and disruptive cultural change. Some people find it easier to adapt than others. Some people find change really difficult. As a leader, one of your tasks will be to find ways you can keep your team focused, motivated and productive during this time of crisis. As a leader, you will be faced with new challenges and questions you may not be able to answer right now, which could be hard for you, especially if you’re the problem solver. As this is a new situation for you too, you won’t have all the answers. By giving your team support with honesty and integrity, you will be heading in the right direction.
Leading a team during a time of so much uncertainty involves managing some difficult emotions with your team members. It is normal to feel fear, grief, anxiety, denial or anger during periods of change. The restrictions relating to our movement may also be impacting your team’s wellbeing.
During any type of crisis, being able to show vulnerability and authenticity as a leader will show your team that you’re also going through the same situation as they are. By being ‘real’, you will be reassuring your people that it’s OK for them to be ‘real’ too. You may have had to furlough your team, and as this will be the first time you have ever done this, you may be finding it difficult. Your teams may be facing a variety of unprecedented emotional and financial pressures, including the impact of furloughed partners and spouses. Many people have lost loved ones and will continue to do so.
Reminding your team of their purpose and keeping clearly defined roles, whilst they work at home, will help you to maintain your business now and as you transition back to the new norm. As your people may be facing a continuous barrage of negativity through social media and news coverage, try to maintain a level of positivity.
Keeping in touch with honest and effective team communication is key during any type of crisis. Your team members will all have different circumstances, and some will have greater challenges than others. The challenges of remote home working may include home-schooling children, sharing co-working space with partners, and concerns for absent or distant family members. Encourage open dialogue and flexible communication, so you can talk through and manage any issues your team may be facing.
According to a Harvard Business School article, research suggests that people who have had no choice in remote working tend to show the least amount of motivation. This poses a challenge for leaders, as the outbreak has forced people to work remotely. In most cases, this will be a completely new experience and will feel as if it’s been forced upon them. If your team are struggling to stay focused, have a team video call at the beginning or end of each day to help talk through any concerns. Regular calls keep people connected and will help to build towards the return to the new norm.
Reflect in learnings
You may find that some team members are able to rise to the challenge of remote working in a crisis and may maintain or even increase their level of productivity. If this is the case, consider why these individuals have adapted better than others. What makes them different? Capture any lessons learned during the crisis using a reflective journal, so you can draw from this when your team are back together. Why not include your team in this activity too, so they can share their own learnings from this crisis?
Leading in a crisis, such as the one we are currently facing, takes strength and determination. You may need to make difficult decisions or have conversations that go way beyond the usual scope of a leadership role. If you can lead your people with authenticity and integrity, you will be able to steer your teams through these challenging times and towards a positive future.
As a leader, would you like to have a trusted, confidential space to help you think, especially when you may not know the answers right now? Would you like to keep your remote teams feeling motivated and support them with their wellbeing? Are you thinking about how you can transition your teams into the new norm, whatever this may be? If you would like to explore a collaborative and confidential coaching relationship, get in touch today.