The hit 1980s movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, opens with the famous narration: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Life is moving SO fast right now. And while we’re definitely not playing hooky from school so we can enjoy a spring day, we might be missing an opportunity for leadership and connection that this national crisis has dropped on our doorsteps. Abrupt change is an opportunity to brush up on leadership practices that invest in the foundation of your business and success — your people. Don’t miss this opportunity to lead. As you continue to discover your “new normal,” here are some thoughts on keeping your people connected, heard, and focused.
More Frequent Team Communication
Within this new context, one of the biggest struggles your teams will encounter is the feeling of isolation. Lack of information gives employees room to fill in the gaps on their own, which can add to worries or loneliness. So, instead, offer more frequent communication to keep people informed and connected.
- Talk in any way you can. If social distancing means fewer or no face-to-face meetings, WebEx, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, and even FaceTime are great ways to establish unity and continuity. Discuss what you know or don’t know about the current environment and use the time to collaborate on tough challenges and to get work done.
- Embrace the absurdity. Share a picture of your current work environment. Your team knows what your workspace looked like in the office, so create this connection to ground your team and show them your current “office.”
- Accept that life is messy. With so much disruption, house rules should be “come as you are.” Don’t worry about noisy children and dogs barking in the background. Yoga pants, not showering, and wearing your toddler’s breakfast are now the new dress code.
Group communication is critical, but team members need the chance to be heard one-on-one, too.
- Lend an ear. Individual communication provides an opportunity for members to talk about what’s going right and where they may need specific support.
- Lend a hand or idea. Be curious about your team’s concerns and provide feedback and ideas on how they might solve problems.
- Be available. Don’t cancel. Not everyone is hunkered down with their families, so show your employees you care by making it clear that they are a priority.
Listening is the simplest tool available for helping people feel valued.
- Dig deeper. Practice active listening and ask if your team needs help. Silence isn’t always a good sign. If you’re not hearing anything, follow up by asking questions that draw out what they’re thinking.
- Be direct. Ask questions like, “Are you feeling isolated?,” “Are you having trouble prioritizing?,” “What’s your biggest challenge today,” and “How can I help you?”
- Say “thank you.” Opportunities to connect may not seem like a big deal to you, but for your team members it might be the highlight of their day.
When everything is in flux, it can be a challenge to keep the people who execute your businesses plans in mind as you focus on keeping the business running. Taking the time to seize this opportunity to build your team up—or in any kind of stressful situation—can pay dividends long into the future. Don’t let this moment pass you by.
“You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.” 😉