This has been a crazy week. I think everyone’s work and home life has been infected with COV 19 planning and discussions. This is when it is hardest to be a leader – when things are unsettled, uncertain, and constantly shifting. It is also when our teams need us most. We need to balance business continuity, customer delivery, and employee needs on a daily if not hourly basis. In times like this I always go back to one of my favorite change mantras: move your energy out of what you can’t control and focus on what you can control and influence. And while this week has been long, hard, and frustrating there is still a lot we can control. Here are 19 tips to help us focus on being Caring, Observant, and Vulnerable to help your team navigate the COV crisis.
Be Infectious with CARE through:
(1) Your words. Your words have a megaphone in times of stress. So what you say and how you say it matters a lot. It’s ok to be stressed -it’s not ok to take it out on your team.
(2) Your flexibility. With school and daycare options in flux for families, how can you be flexible with work hours, deadlines, and/or assignments? Working from home does mean working -and people will work harder and more effectively if you help them with options.
(3) Your kindness. The wise words of Maya Angelou were never more true than at times like this: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Let people know that you care about them as people not just associates.
(4) Your trust. Your team may all be working offsite, even offline. How will you manage their productivity? By assuming they are all doing the right thing and treating them as such. Giving and showing trust pays dividends and builds loyalty.
(5) Your time. The most strategic leaders spend 80% their time on and with people. Now that people can’t grab you in the hallway for a quick question or drop in to show you their project, can you have online office hours? Can you extend your 1:1s to allow time for those extra questions and high touch time?
(6) Your selfcare. We all know the airplane tip put on your own oxygen mask first. This is hard stuff. Be sure you are getting the sleep, exercise, nutrition and balance you need to be there to support your team.
OBSERVE the Health of Your Team By:
Listening. We all handle stress differently. You can hear what’s on their minds by what your team asks. You can learn more by asking them follow up questions. You can help lighten the worry burden just by listening.
Checking non verbals. It’s a lot harder to pick up on non verbals online. Yet if you tune in you can observe the pauses, the eyebrow raises, the wide eyes. Again stop and check in – help them to articulate those non verbals into words and recommendations.
Seeing Waste. One of the few upsides of this current climate is we have to be focused. What are we not going to do — and is there are reason we ever did it? What can you delegate or delete to help you be focused on that’s really important?
Doubling Recognition. Who on your team is stepping up without being asked? Who took the step of learning a new technology tool to make a remote meeting smoother? Every day you are out of the office, make sure the team know you see their actions and appreciate them.
Being Openminded. Most associates today want more flexibility. What can you learn from a required work from home that could become how we work? What meetings/projects worked when you delegated them? Allow this to be a pilot for you and your team to reimagine how you work effectively together.
Checking Attitudes. COV19 is dangerous if you have cancer- and I mean a cancer on the team. What you permit you promote, so don’t permit negativity or a lack of engagement.
Let COV19 Make You VULERABLE to
Honesty. Things are changing at in every sphere quickly, and often in an uncoordinated way. Being honest about what you know now and hope to know soon is healthy for you and your team.
Fear. What happens if we lose a customer account? What if our suppliers can’t meet our deadlines? These are reasonable fears- and sharing them with your team allows them to help you think of new ideas and responses.
Imperfection. It is unlikely everything will go smoothly over the next few weeks. Embrace it. Talk about it with your team. Show that you can pivot, learn, and ask for their help in doing so.
Failing. A ball will drop. It’s just going to happen with this much change. So name it when it happens. Own it. Talk about what you learned and ask what the team would recommend you do differently next time.
New Perspectives. Challenge yourself to use fresh eyes in this new way of working to ask what’s going well? What needs more focus? Where should you spend more of your attention? Invite feedback from customers, stakeholders and teams to help widen your perspective.
Development. What one thing can you commit to learning while you are working at home. Is it being more focused in 1:1s? Is it being present during meetings? Is it taking 15 minutes a day to read/listen to a new blog/Ted Talk/audiobook?
Your shadow. How you show up now matters. A lot. Leverage your strengthens to cast light on the team. Reflect on your blind spots and focus on them. Challenge yourself on your development areas and ask the team to help hold you accountable.
COV19 is a respiratory illness. To combat the mental and emotional challenges your business are facing you need to breathe deeply. We need our teams to feel closely connected during social distancing. And we cant afford to quarantine leadership. Let’s all double down on caring, observing, and vulnerability as antibodies we want to spread regularly.