We weren’t prepared for this. Markets shifting, lack of oil, changes of government, yes. But not this.
It’s hard enough leading at the best of times. And now here is an unprecedented situation where staff are having hours reduced, made redundant or working from home. Let’s say you’re lucky enough to have your team intact but they find themselves at the dining table, alone with their laptop and their cup of Nescafe.
There is not a one size fits all approach for this. Depending on how they operate each will cope in a different way. There are those who will enjoy the opportunity to be independent. They may even go a little rogue but don’t panic. They’re the self starters, the highly disciplined souls who can work from home easily and be more productive without the inane interruptions. You can trust them to get the job done and in fact, it’s with some relief that you send them home as they have a propensity to upset people in the office with their direct delivery and lack of empathy.
There are those who are feeling ill. Worriers by nature, they are sick at this shocking shift of events. They love coming to work at the same time each day, sitting at the same desk with their soy latte and honey on the side, extra hot please. Predictability makes them feel safe and secure. Being at home makes them feel adrift, uncertain. They need reassurance and regular updates to help them feel calm.
There are some who pretty much come to work because they LOVE the people they work with. To work from home alone is like a prison sentence. They miss the chat breaks, the connection, the need to be part of a successful team. They need you to get that Zoom account going pronto so you can all stay in touch over coffee and catch up meetings. Make sure you are personally in contact through direct messaging, Slack, email – whichever means you can.
And there’s the people who can’t really admit it out loud but are actually stimulated by the crisis. Excited by the challenge and the fact that there is movement at the station, these are the people you need to lead the charge. Positive by nature, they’ll motivate others and get them fired up. They’re excited about new possibilities and are the first to see the silver lining in the cloud. While others are anxious, these people are looking ahead to post crisis times.
The way you react to your team is of course dependant on your own personality. But as an enlightened leader you’ve learned to manage and access the traits best needed in times of trouble. Your team are looking to you to lead. To be decisive. Positive yet practical, empathic but clear. And it’s also ok to be human.
This unprecedented time is testing us all. But you’re a good leader. Your team needs you. You can do it.
Lynne’s signature workshop Working with People You Just Don’t Get – is now available as a virtual workshop, live and interactive online. She is the author of Bite Me! And other do’s and don’ts of dealing with our differences.
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