- Focusing on creating a strong team can help your employees feel a sense of community, while also keeping their focus on your shared goals.
- Focusing on supporting your team will help them in their personal lives and by improving that space, you will see them being more productive workers.
- Focusing on yourself is essential. Just like in an airplane, you have to put your mask on first.
2020 has been, in a word, unpredictable. We’ve lived the majority of a year in a world of chaotic swings in our health security, along with many shifts in the economy. In those economic shifts, business leaders are now more than ever responsible for their employees. There are people across the country that are worried about losing their jobs, losing their livelihood, and wondering how they’ll provide for their families if those things happen.
As a business leader, knowing how to manage people during a global pandemic wasn’t something you were trained for. And yet the expectations placed on you at this time are high. As you’re navigating this strange new world, there are skills that you need to focus on. Here are three areas to aim your focus so that you can manage your team and yourself as best as possible during these difficult times.
Focus On The Team
One of your first priorities should be your team. Together, you share a purpose: keep the business afloat and weather this storm together. Encourage your team to connect as much as they can, even virtually. This is especially important for your remote workers and new employees. We are all dealing with some level of trauma from the last year and with that comes mental health challenges.
By connecting, your team can feel a sense of community and togetherness that they are likely craving. Invest in and use the technology you need to scale your organization. Many businesses are turning to remote work and that’s possible by having the right tools.
Another thing to encourage is small talk. Ask about your employees’ families. Everyone is struggling, including the people waiting for your employee to come home at night, and the struggles your employee is facing at home can impact their job performance. Staying aware of their personal struggles can help you know how to help them at the office.
Part of doing this is to keep the lines of communication open. As we all try to handle the turmoil to the best of our abilities, there will be days that we’re struggling. You might have an employee with a family member battling COVID-19. Their kids might be struggling with all the changes. Starting with small talk, you can open communication so your employees will feel more comfortable coming to you if they need extra help
Focus On Support
As you focus on your team, you should also focus on how you are supporting your team. This is not the time for tough love. Rather, now is the time to focus on supporting your workers’ mental health. Monitor your employees for signs of a struggle. Sudden swings in their mood or changes in how they interact with people can all signal that they aren’t handling the pressure of the pandemic well.
Take this time to reestablish the norms and culture of the company, taking it from simply a place to work to a place that fosters a healthy work-life balance and actually cares about its employees.
You should also set the example for healthy work habits. Part of this requires that you stay up-to-date on the latest in the expert recommendations about COVID-19 safety. Along with that, you need to stay up-to-date about resources available to your employees, both from the company and elsewhere.
Some of your employees relied on their partner bringing in an income and they might have lost that. Their kids might be struggling with remote learning. They might simply need a helping hand or someone to talk to. Knowing what resources are available and staying cognizant of your employees’ mental states can pair nicely and allow you to make recommendations when possible.
A side note of supporting your employees and changing the norms is updating your view of paid time off and sick days. If an employee needs to take a day to focus on their family or to work on their mental health, encourage that. If they are feeling sick, definitely encourage them to take a sick day. Trust your employees and trust that they aren’t trying to just get out of their duties. If they are asking for a day, trust that they truly need it.
Focus On You
In all this time focusing on your staff and how to support them, don’t forget about focusing on your needs, as well. Start by defining your boundaries, especially with yourself. With more employees working remotely, work hours can be a little erratic. Define for yourself the times in the day you can handle a work issue and when you are officially hanging up your hat, so to speak. Having a clear break from work can help you mentally and emotionally recharge.
In general, you should pay extra attention to your physical and mental health. Think of it like airplane safety: put on your mask before helping those around you. If you feel yourself struggling, take a step back and communicate it to your team. They are likely struggling as well. Now is also the time to make sure you are as healthy as you can be. Use this as an opportunity to recommit to your physical health, as well as your mental health.
Finally, you must use this time to reflect and introspect. We’ve learned a lot about the world we live in during this past year and some of it hasn’t been great. Are you guilty of being part of the problem or do you want to be part of the solution? How can you better the world around you and the lives of those that work for you? How are you handling all of this, really? Ask yourself these tough questions. Consider writing them down and spend some time meditating on your answers.
This year has been difficult for all of us in a variety of ways. The constant uncertainty is stressful and in a way, we are all feeling the effects of a trauma. Be kind to yourself as you adjust your approach to management and be kind to your employees. They have lives outside of the office that have been thrown into disarray. We’re all trying to do our best and by adopting these focuses, you can help your employees as they adjust to the new normal.