The global pandemic has affected each of our lives in more ways than one, with most of us transitioning to all things virtual and work from home. It has forced us to adapt to new ways of thinking, learning, working and communicating. With everything going on, I’d say we have learned the importance of expecting the unexpected. Not only that, but it has been made clear that some things are simply out of our control. On the other hand, there are some internal things that we are able to control. I’m often asked how we can focus on bolstering our strengths and fixing our weaknesses in a time with such uncertainty, increased pressure & reduced resources. My answer: in a perfect world, you’d do both. But as we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world. So I say focus on bolstering your strengths through increased connectedness. Here are a few actionable tidbits to help your teams achieve this:
- Communicate often and consistently: “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t work here. We might be socially distant from others, but we shouldn’t let that distance come between our feeling of connection and relationships with the ones we care about. Now is the perfect time to put in that extra effort with your peers, clients, loved ones and teammates. It can be an e-mail, a phone call, a handwritten note in the ‘snail mail’, you name it. Whatever it is, I promise it goes a long way to demonstrating caring and compassion. The key is to interact consistently and authentically.
- Measure what matters: now is the time to reassess your internal priorities and measures of performance. With everything flipped upside down, what should change in order for you to be better at what you do? Do your team’s priorities need to be shuffled, should some be deleted, or can new ones be added? Are the current measures of performance meeting the adjusting needs of your clients and customers? Does anyone on your team see areas for editing within your measures of performance? There are few things more demoralizing than being measured against metrics that no longer apply to the current situation. Now is the time to reflect on what should change, if anything, both in and out of the workplace.
- Get to know your folks, for real: Yes, I mean authentic one-on-one time. It’s crucial to check in on each other from a personal perspective, from a place of humanity and caring. It’s okay to ask others how they’re handling everything in this virtually connected world. What has been the most challenging thing for them to adapt to? Where have they seen their strengths shine during these changing times? How is everything going in their personal lives, and where have they seen the most growth? Now is the perfect time to really get to know them, their career goals, hardships they may be facing, personal dreams and aspirations, the list goes on. Get to know them as unique individuals…for real.
- Have fun with one another: Get creative with your interactions with team members outside of a rigid work construct. Maybe set a weekly, non-mandatory, Zoom social hour and have one of your teammates teach or share something that they love or are good at. You’d be so surprised what hidden personal talents folks have! From experience, I’ve seen yoga taught, meditation, an impromptu art class and someone even taught star-gazing fundamentals. It’s enjoyable to see teammates as human beings, with hobbies and interests, not just as pieces of a work-only puzzle. Not to mention, it can be fun and entertaining too!
- Keep humanity in the workplace: Finally, engaging as a team in community volunteer work is a perfect way to maintain perspective in the virtual workplace. Now is a great time to give back to causes aligned to your organization’s mission and values within your community. Ask yourself: is there anything that connects your service or product to the heart and mind? Maybe it’s Zoom mentoring with your local Boys & Girls Club, or gathering goods to ship to service members deployed overseas, or a virtual run/walk to raise funds for your established community partners. Something that says to your employees: even though we’re cooped up and focused on adapting our work and the services we provide; we’re all still human beings and we should seek meaning outside of the work environment. It’s vital your team finds space to connect with your community and focus on a cause bigger than your company. Perspective is everything.
In today’s unpredictable world, I hope these tips empower you to focus your strengths to the betterment of your workspace and teammates, as well as those you love in your personal life. During this time of ambiguity, nurturing closer connections with your peers and loved ones will lead to further productivity and more fulfillment overall.