I don’t pretend to know exactly what to do right now – especially as each team’s situation varies widely. And I know a few things about people, and you know a lot of things about your people.
Dealing with the stress and uncertainty of the Coronavirus itself can be stressful. With that said, here are 7 Ways to Support Your Work Team’s Mindset during these unprecedented times:
Get their world. Acknowledge uncertainty, grief, and loss of normalcy. And don’t try to fix it. Consider too that all the responses to this uncertainty are “reasonable.” Do not dismiss someone’s reaction as absurd or stupid. None of us has ever done this before. We’re all trying to do our best operating from our own collection of reasons and our own confirmation bias. Acknowledge the grief and sense of loss. Many are experiencing a loss of normalcy and grief for what they imagined their life would look like this year. Don’t try to “fix” it – instead simply listen with compassion and empathy. Have compassion for yourself and for each of your team member’s experiences. Listen and simply allow people to share what it’s been like for them and simply give them permission to be with the discomfort. It’s normal. You don’t need to fix it or try to make them “feel better.”
Communicate often and don’t sugarcoat it. Consider providing a daily update – which could look like letting your team know there is no update. Keep them in the loop and be straight about the facts and the impact on your organization. Also be straight about what you don’t know rather than trying to guesstimate on how it could go. Don’t catastrophize about “what ifs” while also setting aside some time to do thoughtful scenario planning. Lastly, if you have to make tough choices, make them and don’t sugarcoat it.
Share your humanity AND be emotionally steadfast. Let your team in on what it’s been like for you – both personally and professionally. Let them know these are challenging times for you too. This makes you relatable and allows any other messaging to be heard because they have the experience that “you’re one of us, you get what it’s like” – and that you’re not just “the boss.” While sharing your humanity, you also have to be emotionally steadfast. Be grounded in and present to the right here and the right now. The sky is not falling. It’s actually not the end of the world. And there’s still plenty to be grateful for – even if it’s simply for your next breath. Savor the present moment and remember, your team is a reflection of you. They will find reassurance in your fortitude.
Acknowledge your team for their strength, commitment and resilience. Your organization would not exist without these three traits in your team members. Appreciate and acknowledge who they are, their contribution and how they keep showing up.
Be patient and powerfully share the mission and vision. Many people have been riding an emotional roller coaster. One moment trying to be optimistic and seeing how this time is a unique opportunity and then another moment feeling like it’s all going to come crashing down. No surprise – when people are distracted by the threat to their survival, their work productivity is impacted. They may be even thinking, why does this even matter right now? Powerfully share why it matters. Plug everyone into the heart of why you exist, into your meaningful mission. Presence them to how they continue to contribute to, and are a part of, something that’s bigger than themselves and bigger than this virus.
Provide clarity of focus and celebrate small wins. What is THE priority right now? What makes a real difference in supporting the sustainability of your organization? And what bite-size tasks can different team members take on in creating that future? Being productive right now is possible – and it feels like “just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” Support your team in seeing what that next step is and give a shout out for each one taken.
Encourage emotional intimacy and the experience of togetherness. Allow your team’s “whole” self to show up – both personal and professional. Our personal and professional lives are showing up more intertwined than ever. Last week one of my client’s – whose makeshift home office is in his boys’ bedroom – was on a Zoom call making an important point to his colleagues, when one of his sons leaned down from the top bunk and had his Tyrannosaurus Rex “eat” his dad’s head. His colleagues roared. He had to giggle. Capture and highlight these memory making moments – they will bolster your team’s camaraderie and sense of shared identity for years to come.
Bonus:Provide an avenue for your team to connect personally and share their “Quarantine Hacks” as another way to manage stress and uncertainty: This is a unique opportunity to generate a deep level of camaraderie for your team. This is a shared experience like no other. Keep your team connected beyond work. Provide a space where they can share stories, recipes, kid activities, and tips and tricks. Here’s some ideas for remote teams to stay connected – (note – this list was created long before Covid).
We’d love to hear what you’re doing with your teams to support them in dealing with stress and uncertainty right now – please send us an e-mail with your “Quarantine Hacks” to [email protected]
Meanwhile, here’s to you, your team and your community’s health and well-being during these unprecedented times.
Where to go from here.
Recognition is something that can only be provided by an external person. If you take on this practice you’ll find it makes an incredible impact on your team members.
But it’s not just recognizing anything, there’s a way to go about this that can take it next level.
Check out One Simple Way to Make Employee Recognition Easier