“The most dangerous phrase in our language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way’.” (Admiral Grace Hopper). Well, guess what?! It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to do many things the way you did before.
This global pandemic has just created a MAJOR shift in the way we work, where we work and how we engage employees. So, how do you, as a leader, navigate the changes that have already happened and those that are still to come, all while making it a smooth transition for your team?
I’m no expert but here is where I am starting:
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
You don’t have to do this alone and frankly, you shouldn’t. Bring different perspectives to the table and do more than just listen to them. Really hear them and understand where concerns or resistance may be coming from. This will make for a better solution to whatever problem you are trying to solve.
Put a plan in place but don’t write it in stone
Having a plan is important but so is recognizing that we are in uncharted territory right now, and circumstances can change rapidly. You could try planning for a variety of scenarios. For example, would you like to have everyone back in the office working like you once did? Maybe, but that’s not likely to happen for a while. Try shifting your focus to what can happen with your team as cities reopen. How can your workspace, work process and work style be reimagined?
Your immediate new reality is not likely to look anything like your pre-COVID reality, so be up front about that. No one has done this before, and it’s okay to not have everything figured out. Being transparent with your team about challenges and how you came to solutions can go a long way towards understanding — which leads me to empathy.
Change can be hard for people, so lead with empathy. As leaders, we don’t really know what our team is dealing with at home. And change, with a global pandemic layered on top, can be down-right stressful. Be mindful that re-opening may not be a positive for everyone. Health concerns, childcare worries and any number of other factors can make this a very difficult time for people. How can you help to alleviate some of those stresses for your team? Leading with empathy is always a good place to start.
There’s a quote by Ralph Marston that says, “Being positive in a negative situation is not naïve. It’s Leadership.” Finding the positive and highlighting the wins when it feels like there are none, is a key part of leadership. What are some silver linings you’ve observed during the pandemic, that you can share with your organization? Even small wins are wins, and when you group a lot of them together, they can add up to big wins.
I certainly don’t have the answers for how to transition to a new normal, but I know that working together, being flexible and transparent, leading with empathy and staying positive is a good place to start. How are you managing change within your organization?