Nightmares are on the up. If a viral pandemic and a potential global economic crash weren’t enough, reports of increased nightmares during this time show that stress levels are heightened significantly.
As a manager or leader, this means that your entire team of people is now remote and more likely to be stressed than what they present or refrain from presenting. You might overlook it, but your company culture is crucial to help combat this, and more important than ever. Here are five ways of safeguarding your team or organization from burning out or melting under the pressure thus protecting the company culture from malevolent behavioural change.
We all know that in general, managers have to work hard to build and maintain great relationships with their teams. Doing this in a remote culture is a lot harder than it is in a co-located one, so here are some tips for you to put into practice.
Make time for a chat or talk
Working remotely robs many of the small social interactions they are used to in the office. When someone isn’t in front of you, or when you don’t immediately need something from them, it’s all too easy to forget about regular contact. Be conscious of this. Don’t only message people when you need things; make time for a small chat. For e.g.: Just like office hours, spend your tea time break with a colleague/team members chatting on call.
We at nCircle Tech have started with a new initiative known as ‘Chat with Directors’ wherein our Directors connect with a few employees every Friday for a virtual chat session. It is a casual discussion to understand the challenges of the employee while working remotely and looking at solutions to overcome it. Sometimes, it simply involves a pep-talk as working from home does get overwhelming at times.
Video over Voice
What you say makes up for a fraction of communication in comparison to how you say it. Don’t forget that written communication lacks tone, and can be misinterpreted so try to have video calls when you can. It wouldn’t hurt to see that familiar office face even while at home, It’s been long since we met him/her in person anyway.
For instance, our Directors always start a meeting with their video on and encourage all of us to do so too. If bandwidth is an issue, they suggest at the least starting the meeting with the video on. In fact, our founders also spend the initial few minutes chatting up and asking about the well being of the attendees and the situation around. This has been observed to really warm the employees up. And, we all have taken to putting the same into our practice as much as possible.
Record or write down as much as you can
It might seem like everyone’s availability is wide open now that they are working from home, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Make sure that you record whatever Zoom calls you have so that others who might have other responsibilities at home can watch it in their own time. Parents, in particular, can feel like they are dropping the ball for even missing a single meeting, so making sure they have the opportunity to ‘catch up’ is important to them.
In times of crisis, as a leader you need to avoid being panicked or unprepared. Remain calm and adopt a level of transparency that may feel uncomfortable at first, but that is essential to making everyone feel connected with the business.
In times of crisis, as a leader you need to avoid being panicked or unprepared. Remain calm and adopt a level of transparency that may feel uncomfortable at first, but that is essential to making everyone feel connected with the business. Our leaders always try to communicate with completeness, consciousness, concreteness and with courtesy to all key stakeholders like our employees, customers, strategic partners and the media. These messages reflect Vision, Mission, Values and Culture of the organization. For this, we usually conduct a monthly Huddle which is now organized at org-wide level virtually on Google Meet in this pandemic situation. Hence,transparency not only communicates trust, but will also help prevent rumours and gossip, which even on a harmless level causes uncertainty and worry in the team.
2. Prioritize your people
Your company culture is not just your people, but also how you treat them. While it’s easy to fall into crisis mode and focus entirely on the bottom line and staying functional, don’t! Your team’s morale will pay the price.
Allow for flexibility
Very few people were prepared for an instantly perfect home office set up. Be mindful of this and adopt a flexible mindset that’s based on outputs rather than hours worked thus, trying to boost employee morale and reduce stress levels. A great work-life balance builds trust and commitment within the workplace, which can increase productivity.
Minimize risk and actively protect
With some regions starting to loosen the restrictions, don’t rush your team back to the office if it is not safe to do so. Inform your employees to work from home and not to rush to the office in this pandemic situation until and unless it is an emergency. Our leaders and HR team heads at nCircle Tech have encouraged all the employees to continue to work from home unless it is safe to head out and work from the office. Any action which shows preference to the bottom line over the team will be damaging and not easily forgotten.
3. Make considered decisions and stick to them
Decisive leadership in times of crisis affirms confidence within the team. While it’s impossible to know what the future faces, make sure your decisions aren’t rushed, flighty, or poorly thought through.
Revert to your company values
Take a little time to review your company values. Not only should they inform your company culture, but they are there specifically to help you with decision making in both good times and bad. How are your actions reflective of the standards your company has defined itself by? How will these forced and fast decisions affect you in the long term? Can you stand by them? Let your values shine through in your every action in these times.
Control the conversation early
Try to avoid dragging your feet about taking action, especially if it’s for something unpleasant. Speculation will already be rife in the team so you must take control of the narrative from an early stage. This not only gives clarity but also reassurance that you’re in control and able to deal with the current situation.
How a company chooses to act in this crisis will have huge implications. Your company culture is the mindset of your people, and when actively looked after, it can help you and your team weather this storm. Do it right and you will have a motivated, loyal team. Do it wrong, and it will not be easily forgotten and will have long term consequences on your employer brand and attrition rates.
4. Give inside out information
As a leader, share stories from your personal day-day life every now and then. It could be how you managed to cope with an ongoing meeting and your child crying for your attention, how you aced the day scrubbing the floor in record time with a new trick you came up with etc. These stories make you more human and relatable with your team and organization at large. Additionally, this helps you and your team develop an attitude of empathy while working.
5. Facilitate learning
This is a great time to learn, upskill, and upgrade skills. As a leader, encourage sessions of new learnings. This may not necessarily be about your work. It could be a hobby activity, a light meditation to de-stress, a new and fun workout session, and so on. Our lives are restricted to work and at home. Helping open new doors will refresh mids and bring in creativity and skill; two ingredients required at this time.
All in all, ensure you keep the conversation going. Do not stop or limit yourself here. The team and organization need to feel accommodated, valued, and appreciated. You will find the skill set in one person or the other. But finding the right attitude is rare and that’s what you need to keep at the core of it all. We are glad that nCircle Tech is making sure that we remain connected while working from our homes.
For more information, Please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author :Rutuja Bhambure, Human Resources, nCircle Tech
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