- The pandemic has been a challenge to business leaders working to maintain a supported and high-performing group of employees.
- Whether your office is reopening or you’re continuing to lead a virtual team, there are certain leadership strategies you can embrace to encourage employees to do their best work.
- Bring your team together to bond at events like virtual happy hours or trivia nights, schedule one-on-one check-ins to see how everyone is doing, and stay accountable by keeping your employees in the loop on how the company is doing.
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In a world of increased flux and uncertainty, today’s sense of normal continues to shift and slide to finds its place in our lives and work. Amid significant business changes, leaders need to dig deeper into their sense of courage, empathy, and trust.
Leadership practices can determine how teams feel, observe, and lean on in times of crisis and ambiguity. Your team will remember throughout this period how they were led. They will be concerned about the information coming through and that their leaders are committed to finding the best solutions for them.
Leadership must be conscious, continual, and courageous to lead through a crisis and bring people along graciously. By leading a team of raving fans, and supporting them to remain focused, you will see practices that contribute to team effectiveness productivity and collaboration. Here are eight ways for leading teams, virtual or not, for high impact.
Communicate clear, frequent messages
The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 report highlighted 63% of respondents identified that they would believe information from their employer about the pandemic rather than trusted government websites or traditional media. A leader’s words and actions can help employees feel safe, support them to cope emotionally and put their experience into a context where they can draw meaning from it. Leaders must give people what they need when they need it, communicate clearly, and frequently, maintain transparency, and help people make sense of all that has happened.
Strengthen team chemistry
Leading socialization experiences can be as simple as taking a few minutes at the start of a team meeting to explore shared interests, reflect on successes achieved in the past week through to sharing personal stories and what TV shows people are engrossed in through Netflix. Creating a water cooler channel or chatroom to debate sports, share the latest memes or hosting virtual party strengthens team bonds and uplifts team spirits.
Leaders can share their personal stories to invite conversations about challenges and normalize how leaders are also human. By capturing stories, they can be a frame for change, bring teams together, strengthen collaboration, and offer inspiration for people to act.
When teams are in sync, they have clarity on the common goal, are clear what success looks like for the team, and are committed to the top priorities, behaviours and practices that support the team effectiveness. By developing shared leadership through one-on-one meetings creates an environment where you experience your people on a deeper level. Leaders can ask questions such as:
- What matters most to you in your current role?
- How would you describe a great day for you? What does it look like?
- Identify what makes you proud to be part of this workplace?
- If you could lead an initiative within the workplace, what would that be?
Within the team meeting, these questions can identify practices, spark discussion and actions that are important to the team.
A lack of accountability within a team permeates the organization’s fabric like wildfire, limits productivity and can kill morale. Individuals need to know what they and as a collective are accountable for delivering. Leaders need to set the stage by describing the ‘why’ of what they are spending valuable time on. By setting clear expectations, team members are clear on the standards and the deliverables. These conversations are not one-offs; they demand repetition.
Switch from boss to coach
Do not tell people what to do, rather coach them in real-time. Google Oxygen Project concluded that the quality of management contributes to the team and the company’s performance. They identified vital behaviours that distinguish great leaders, highlighting coaching team members as a primary one.
Leaders create environments where they nurture people to converse with each other and as a mentor, be a resource for them. Through weekly team meetings leaders explore what roadblocks need to be removed and how you can assist them. By being transparent with the team, leaders provide balanced feedback with what has gone right and how you can learn from the experiences. Success should never be glossed over and deserves equal weight, if not more.
As people make their way back to the workplace, they may continue to experience confusion about what lays ahead. Leaders can offer space and time for all employees to speak about the uncertainty they feel, reflect on what had changed for them and the valuable lessons they had learned about themselves and their work during this time.
BCG interviewed 12,000 employees about the future of remote work. One of the critical areas recognized is the importance of mental health, identifying challenges and solutions to address them. Microsoft India invited experts to educate both leaders and employees on the importance of mental health and well-being during challenging times. Starbucks provided all their US-based employees and eligible family members with access to 20 free therapy sessions.
Invest in succession planning
Launching clear leadership pipelines demonstrates to employees that you are invested in their development and their future within the organization. In Deloitte’s Talent 2020 series, 37% of employees changing roles expressed a lack of career progression as their primary reason for exiting the company. Tackling these leadership blocks and developing individual development plans for all employees of all levels can lead to increases in employee engagement, minimize staff turnover, aid the recruitment process, and be a great way of building organizational cohesion and teamwork.
The one-size-fits-all approach does not work
The announcement by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to give people a ‘Work from Home Forever’ option was received with mixed reactions. Empowering the employee to determine how they return to the office or never work in an office if you do not wish to, places diversity and inclusion in the hands of the employee. Leaders can lead discussions to unveil how people feel about returning into the workplace, the benefits and risks associated. Leaders can start from where the person is at and adopt a sense of curiosity rather than fall back on what you know of that person. Through one-one-on conversations and team discussions, leaders can explore what strategies can be embraced to support inclusion.