Over the past few weeks, change has occurred rapidly and drastically. As a leader, engagement with your teams might be one of the few things our employees can depend on to guide them through their days. Now more than ever, we must remember the fundamentals of effective leadership as we transition through these uncertain times.
Lead yourself first
Take a few moments every day to learn something new. Whether you choose to listen to your favorite leadership podcast or learn a new time management skill, learning allows you to get work done more efficiently and reduce your stress. It also gives you a chance to lead by example and demonstrate progressive work techniques to your team. As employers, we routinely ask employees to look for ways to improve their productivity, and we have opportunities every day to follow our own advice.
This can be difficult, especially when work is intense. Work definitely needs to get done, but don’t forget to step away for a few minutes at the appropriate times so you can be focused when it counts the most. In doing so, you will be mentally prepared to lead in the wake of any challenges today may bring.
This is perhaps the most impactful action you can take when work conditions are in a state of change. You should proactively offer strategies to help your team be successful, and remind your team that you are there, facing the changes and experiencing the challenges along with them. Most importantly, articulate your expectations and your vision of how the team should operate in the midst of these changes.
Also, it’s important to help your team find new ways to collaborate during the transition to working virtually. However, tension may be high and employees may be experiencing anxiety or fear of the unknown, so listening is just as important as directing. Checking in with your employees occasionally just to see how they are doing personally can help to reassure them that you are there and willing to help.
Help your team stay focused on results
It’s easy to let concerning headlines and the distractions of working from home keep us from focusing on results. Therefore, set realistic goals for yourself and your team, and touch base with your team members at least once during the day and at the end of the day to discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities. Many of your employees will appreciate your support in focusing on something other than stress.
Be careful not to micro-manage your employees during this process. Calling your employees every few hours can be de-motivating and even disruptive when they are trying to get their work done. Instead, take the time to prioritize what matters most and focus on what you can do to make improvements. If a team member is not meeting expectations, be sure to address your concern directly with him or her, and allow the rest of your team to be productive on their own terms.
No one has all the answers, especially during uncertain times. However, we are continually presented with opportunities to be innovative in our business operations. For instance, you could schedule a meeting to ask your team for suggestions on how to collaborate with colleagues. This could help you find solutions to our developing technological needs, and it can help your team feel empowered to make valuable contributions to the organization.
One of the best ways to manage change is to get your team involved with the solutions. This will help them to be more committed to accomplishing objectives and designing work processes that optimize performance. Your job in this process is to be responsive to the needs of our customers and to create pathways of success for your team.
There is no need to pretend that the changes are not affecting you. Being an effective leader means acknowledging your team’s fears and instilling a sense of normalcy so we can accomplish organizational objectives despite the changes that are taking place around us. Just remember to communicate and support your teams as we focus on what we can control today.