Business owners and leaders, there is no doubt that these are challenging times. COVID-19 has required you to change business practices overnight. Teams that normally buzz with momentum are now separated, and you must hope are still able to work effectively to get things done. Technology that was once optional for getting things done is now essential, whether your employees feel ready or not. Read or share this companion piece about helping employees adjust to the changes caused by COVID-19.
While fear and stagnancy may be unavoidable in the first few days of change, this process is not going to be a short one. The threat of prolonged change and uncertainty will shift into confusion. While I’ve written articles on overcoming the challenge of change, and contributed to a post on preparing for the unexpected crisis, this is still a whole new ball game. How actively you step in to restore order will determine your success long term. Your ability to retain talent, keep customers, and emerge strong on the other side is contingent upon your taking the right actions now. The first step for managing this critical element of change, is to guide your employees with the expectations of how things will function. It will be important that you create scaffolding around this new normal, both as an essential piece to surviving the current ordeal – and for managing the continued aftermath we must expect will come later.
Below are five key ideas for changing the way you lead and manage your team during this critical time:
1. Team Meetings. Whether you’re normally tech savvy or not, this is the time to embrace technology as it may be the only way you can routinely “meet” with your staff. Meetings should be focused on important news and updates for the day or week, and any new information that is emerging. This is a way to build a relationship – even where one never before needed to exist. My recommendation is to hold meetings at least twice weekly, and limit them to a maximum of 30 minutes.
2. Individual Meetings. Each member of the team needs to know that the work they do is valued, just as each manager/supervisor needs to know the level of progress being made. Managers and leaders may need to shift work responsibilities among those on the team based on changes in circumstance.
3. Enforce an End of Day/End of Week Report. By initiating an EOD/EOW, as described here by investor Jason Calacanis, you will be able to track progress and ensure accountability. By having employees submit a list of their accomplishments each day, or week, they will have an easier time staying on task and will also keep you abreast of their progress (or any lack thereof) in meeting deliverables.
4. Create a Virtual Bulletin Board. This shared virtual space allows the business to post updates, and staff can easily interact and collaborate with one another. NoteApp is one such online program that offers great features and reasonable pricing. No longer will a team member feel unsure of who is available to provide support. They can post their request, and others can identify needs, on a secured site.
5. Team Building. Businesses accustomed to remote workers have long used different games, tools, and strategies to keep the individual employees engaged and motivated. The City Hunt site offers several great ideas. The core function is to help people feel that they are connected and interacting. And it’s great if these activities have a personal bent, as it helps build their ability to relate and enjoy their “team” even when they are apart. I recommend using one each week – perhaps as a kick off to your meeting. I also believe participation should be as mandatory as the meeting. Allowing staff the option to bow-out, especially if it becomes routine to do so, will undermine your efforts and give way for an us/them mentality to evolve.
While this challenge of change is a great one, there is an upside. This unexpected shift in how will require us to trust our employees more, and as a result, will quickly identify which members of the team are accountable, capable, and motivated. Your rock stars will shine and those who are not, will become exposed. And with the expected flood of available talent, you can reap the benefits of building your best team ever.
Be well, do well, succeed.