The key to your business bouncing back from this lock down is your people. You need willing and able teams to be up and ready to go when Victoria opens up again, whether it is on the factory floor or at an executive level. The people who know your business, who are connected to your business, and who have been cared for by your business, will be the difference when you look to reboot. To help you through, we have a few suggestions to help you lead your team through this really tough time.
1. Stay connected
We know it is stating the bleeding obvious to say that Victoria is doing it tough right now with the most severe lock down laws since Covid-19 hit our shores. And this is what makes it more important than ever to stay connected with your teams whether they are working off site or in a holding pattern for the duration of Stage 4.
Zoom fatigue is a real thing but it is still a brilliant tool for bringing teams together and enabling a form of face to face communication. Call team members individually and just check in and see how they are and what they need to get things done. Set up fun challenges, share jokes, provide access to online learning or exercise - there are plenty of ways you can keep in touch and keep your people connected to you and your business – choose what works for you and your team. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to make your team feel needed and valued which fosters an ongoing connection.
2. Recognise that remote learning is not a choice
You are likely to have team members who are working and trying to support remote learning or they may have just lost access to on site learning or childcare because of the Stage 4 changes. You might find this frustrating but we can assure you, working from home with kids on site is no fun for anyone! Try juggling a deadline with a toddler having a tantrum because you won’t let them eat from the bin – no one wins! Yes, it was their choice to have kids but no one chose working from home whilst being an art, literacy, maths, science, sports and language teacher whilst also providing 392 snacks a day.
What’s the solution? Try having a chat with your employees and find a solution that allows work to be done while managing the cherubs. Some may want to reduce work hours per day, others may want to start extra early and get a few hours in before the kids start school and then come back in the afternoon when the kids are done. Individual circumstances may require different solutions so get creative and get flexible. Whatever you decide, bear in mind that the parents in your team may be really struggling with the juggle and a fair and reasonable approach will save both of you a lot of stress and heartache.
3. Be kind
We know it is incredibly stressful managing a business that has to go to reduced, limited or zero output during this time. But throwing out kindness rather than frustration is an incredibly powerful action. Your employees will also be worried about the business too – they will worry about having a job to return to and how they will pay their bills right now and in the future. They worry for the health and safety of loved ones and while they are confined to their homes, they have very limited options for reducing stress through the usual recreational means we all took for granted in 2019 (sport, restaurants, friends…). A simple act of kindness – such as taking a flexible approach to working hours or understanding home schooling obligations – drives loyalty, reduces pressure and provides a more positive workplace experience that will be evident in output.
Importantly, be kind to yourself. As a leader, you may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders but if you have hired correctly, you should have a team that is both willing and able to support you as well. Delegate, share responsibility, ask for help – it will make you a better leader and grow your team’s skill sets at the same time. Connect with other business owners and leaders and share challenges and solutions. Make sure you take time away from business to reboot as well – you must lead by example in taking care of yourself, and your employees will be relying on your to be on top of your game when things start to return to semi, Covid style normal.
4. Set realistic expectations
For some of you, this is the first time you have had to manage and lead a team that isn’t on site. What we have seen through this period is that most employees are living up to expectations and maintaining solid levels of work which may result in changes to the way you operate post pandemic. For other employees, there may be a change in output and you need to ensure you know the difference between someone who is slacking off and someone who is struggling with the lock down experience. Keeping your team connected and the lines of communication open will help you spot the difference. It may be as simple as managing the juggle of home schooling but it may be that their mental health has taken a real hit with the lock down. And let’s be frank, productivity will drop – it’s a natural outcome – but it’s how you manage this is what will count long term.
5. Support may need to be external
Everyone will be impacted by this lock down but at varying levels. Some will coast through and find the silver linings; others will be overwhelmed by the constant confinement at home and some will swing between feeling fine to not coping. This is not a time for judgement as different circumstances, different personalities, different predispositions will all determine different responses to the pandemic lock down. No matter the response though, we do recommend you get out in front and make your teams aware of the many resources available to them for support. To make it easier for you, following is a list that you may find helpful:
HR Staff n’ Stuff
So, what are we doing during Stage 4? We are taking our own advice and looking after each other and ourselves but we will continue to be here for you too. We are open for business and working, and the team will be available if you need any support or advice so please reach out if you need any HR assistance.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!