Tips& Tricks for Leaders

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Over the last few week’s you may have seen the dialogue and articles on social media about the importance leadership can play during this uncertain and difficult period.  We know that’s its challenging enough to manageyourself, your workload and the demands of children and families whilst in lockdown without having to also adapt your management style to a new context. But its important you can play a huge role in supporting the wellbeing of your teams and helping them adjust . They will remember how you led them and how you made them feel.

 

Reset your expectations.Most teams are socialized and accustomed to synchronous work and standardisation. They work together, located in the same office, under the same working conditions, with the same work schedule. In a lockdown environment with caring responsibilities thrown in , managers must help their teams shift immediately to asynchronous work and personalised work schedules. As managers  you’ll need toreset your own and the teams expectations of how work gets done,letting go of when and how tasks are accomplished, allowing team members to accomplish their responsibilities on their own terms. This means focusing on results and offering more flexibility.

Add a layer of mutual support.Attending to every team member’s needs whilst managing your own can be time consuming.  Look at  organising buddy teams of  pairs or groups  to provide support, entertainment and to maintain social connection to the organisation.  The HR team have been grouped into buddy groups of 5-7 during this team and have found this a great experience. Ask any of us for more information.

Interpret tone and voice as proxies for face-to-face feedback.It’s harder to read the emotional cues of your people when you aren’t in the same room. Instead of relying on non-verbal data and body language, now you must rely on proxy indicators such as text, voice, and infrequent video communications. Pay close attention to: patterns in the tone of written communication; rate, volume, pitch, and inflexion of voice communication; and any physical gestures in video communication. If you know your people well, changes in these patterns will help you identify early that a team member may need some additional support.

Model optimism and drain the team of fear.Optimism is contagious.Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members findmeaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions. And don’t forget touse humor as a relief valve. Remember that fear freezes initiative, ties up creativity, and yields compliance instead of commitment. Finally, consider thatconstraints are often the enabling factor that sparks innovation. Invite your team to use the quarantine conditions as a stimulus for new ideas.

Update even if there’s no update.Uncertainty fuels anxiety. The more youcommunicate and share,the less chance there is to develop an information vacuum within your team. Communicate regularly even if you don’t have new information to share.Maintaining transparencythrough a crisis with frequent updates is the ultimate expression of good faith, empathy, and genuine concern for your team.

 

Continually gauge stress and engagement levels. Make it crystal clear to your team members that your chief concern is their well-being. Take time to monitor their engagement by periodically asking each team member two quick questions. First, on a zero-to-10 scale, rate the level of stress you currently feel. Second, using that same scale, rate your level of overall engagement. Your intuitive or impressionistic sense of the individual may be wrong, so it helps to get quantitative responses.

Humans are hyper-social creatures who long to belong. And psychological safety — where your team members feel included, safe to learn, safe to contribute, and safe to challenge the status quo, all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or punished in some way — is paramount even under conditions of quarantine. When you create and sustain these conditions you allow them to continue to perform and contribute, and perhaps, most importantly at a time like this, you acknowledge their humanity.

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