Supporting your employees during a crisis isn’t an option if you want to be a good leader. And difficult is sort of a NICE word for the times we’re living in right now. It’s made me think just how hard it has been to try and remain, become, maintain…whatever…GOOD leadership this year.
We’ve all been rocked with a bunch of change this year and last Wednesday was no different. As I stumbled down to my computer (after being awake until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out LITERALLY the state of our nation) I was greeted with this article in HRExecutive.
Offering ideas from HR professionals, including my friend Mark Stelzner, it made me realize I needed to get on the stick and let my people know whatEVER they were feeling was perfectly normal. I even snagged a few phrases from the article verbatim (hey, it was pre-coffee!)
Yesterday’s events were disconcerting and frightening and it’s normal and natural to have trouble focusing and getting back to “normal”. No matter your political leanings, it’s important to note that what happened yesterday is NOT part of America’s political process as originally intended and was carried out by a minority that doesn’t represent in any way the true nature of either party.
While we are just a small firm in a small state in the middle of the country, we’re no less affected by what happened yesterday and I too, am struggling to focus and complete the work before me. But you should know, Eric, Jeremy, and I are here for you if you need to talk. We would encourage you to use your healthcare plan to seek counseling if recent events are impacting you negatively on a consistent basis.
It’s also crucial to know that when division is sown and discouraged by leadership and within any team, it inevitably leads to chaos and important work being interrupted and forgotten. No leader(s) should ever allow the kind of division and lies that have plagued our country recently and reached a fever pitch yesterday.
But finally, know that we will not tolerate any division of the kind seen yesterday within our “walls”. We’ve all seen how toxic and dangerous it can be. Respect for each other and working as a team toward our purpose are still the mandates of the day/month/year. No team wins when it’s divided; as a team, we need to remain united around the company’s purpose and values.
This is one of MANY letters we’ve had to write to our people over the past year. To explain:
- Whether their jobs are safe
- What funding we were trying to get
- If they would need to navigate partial unemployment
- To tell them our plan for what lay ahead
- To promote positivity when everyone was discouraged
- To explain another client had left
- To tell them their role had to change
- To explain why we had to do the things we simply HAD to do
Anyway, here are some other things, we’ve been trying to do over the course of this year to make our employees feel more supported:
We moved our eatin’ meetin’ to once a month. Zoom happy hours are a blast but Zoom fatigue is real y’all.
Speaking of, we made all our standups in the morning face to face. Do we always look pretty? NOPE. But we do get more facetime with each other than ever before and it helps us stay engaged and on task.
We went ALL IN on performance reviews. Many companies chose not to have them but for us, we realized how important it was to connect with our people. And they were long. We completely revamped them to discuss the individual, their team, the company as a whole, and to address their career goals and our internal values. We learned a LOT through our review cycle AND were able to convey just how much we valued our people. At the same time, we were able to:
- Clarify roles and responsibilities in a time of chaos
- Learn how to collaborate better in a time of distance
- Build up leadership skills and learn about our people’s career aspirations in a time of uncertainty
- Brainstorm solutions in a time of countless issues
- Create a game plan with future leaders in a time of powerlessness
A whole lot of thanking and atta boys and girls! It’s dead ass simple to say thank you and you did a great job, so just do it! So many people are feeling overlooked and like they don’t have a voice. Speaking of…
We took our people’s ideas and began making them a reality. Surveys and engagement programs are useless if they don’t produce solutions.
We started majoring in empathy. Our clients and vendors and partners are all living in the same world we’re living in. They’re unsure, frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed, upset, and discouraged about…well, pick your poison. Just about the only silver lining in this thing is that the entire world is impacted by the virus and sometimes, that helps. So when migraines take out a Brancher, or a client’s baby starts babbling on a conference call or a new puppy makes a mess while someone is conducting a lunch and learn…we’re cool with it.
Anyway, it’s been a long 2021…well just a week but still. Good luck out there.