Now that we have entered 2021, leaders are still dealing with all the challenges of 2020 but with the added element of time. Research indicates we all have levels of resilience we employ to get through a crisis; the bigger trial comes when that crisis turns into an on-going challenge. At this point in the pandemic, leaders and teams are burning out. This may be attributed to the continued experience of life at home, which often includes isolation and a lack of social interaction, on top of the day’s demands. Our last two blogs took a more in-depth look at resilience. Now it’s time to pair that quality with leadership.
Many leaders have been asking, “How do I keep my team engaged?” They’re saying, “We made it through 2020 and have such a great team of people, but I worry about them….”
First, it is a great sign that you are aware and attuned to the needs of your people. Leaders must steward the environment and engagement to keep the best talent. Below I’ve attached an HBR article highlighting recent research on the most appreciated leadership skills during 2020. It’s a great refresher on how to lead now. At the top of the list are honesty, integrity, collaboration, and communication. While these may sound intuitive or easy, with all you are currently juggling, take a moment to check how you are doing in these areas.
Just as we had to reinvent working from home, we now need to reinvent leading from home. Here are some practices to get your ideas flowing…..involve your team in the dialog as a way to engage them in healthy practices to reduce stress and increase connection.
- Engage in a regular check-in practice that is personal. Take time to invite each team member to speak to their current state; alternate this with inviting each to share a highlight or a challenge they are facing. Encourage leveraging peers for support. A key to doing this well is ensuring you create an open and psychologically safe space for this dialog. Start small and deepen the practice.
- Create pump-up buddies; these have been used in all different ways to keep morale up. They can be secret or known and a source of connection, sharing ideas and resources.
- Send your team a pick-me-up, especially this winter. Some suggestions include hot chocolate gifts, a throw for the office, WFH awards, and other gestures of appreciation for the double duty folks are giving right now.
- Keep up the communication in all forms. Schedule one-on-ones, town halls, and fireside chats (these have been amazing for many clients) where there can be a mix of formal and informal communication. It also helps create a more personal connection during a time when we are not in the office with each other.
- Invest in developing your team individually and collectively. This is essential to retention and engagement. Ask, “What are the capabilities most needed for success going forward?” Then begin that work now as it will be valuable when we return to a new normal. Work development into your 1x1s.
- Agree on breaks and getting outside every day (even if you achieve four days a week, that is progress). Here at Capacity Group, we block 12-1 PM every day to be outside for a walk (so many benefits, see article below). How are you helping your team take the break they need?
- Scheduling practices. Cut one-hour meetings to 50 minutes, so everyone has time to breathe, get water, etc., between meetings. No video days: Instituting days or afternoons where only phone and not video is used. This gives people a break and can help deepen listening.
- Take good care…sleep, exercise, take breaks, play games, and add structure to your day. These days tend to blur together, so creating structure is essential.
- Mindfulness. Research on this is everywhere, reinforcing the benefits of being balanced, grounded, and lowering stress. This can take many forms, but establishing a practice is key.
Now is the time to figure out ways to thrive in this environment. See our links below for more ideas and tips!