It is a trying time. Every day is a new day; ripe with new, unanticipated challenges and stressors. As a technology leader, right here and right now, we are all focused on how to best deliver improvement, serve our customers and plan for what’s next as we face a future that is at best uncertain. A future based entirely on health reports, inference, instinct and a heaping side of caution. During this time of sheer unknown, what can we control? We can control how we are managing our teams and supporting them through this pandemic.
Here are three things you can do right now to keep healthfulness high and lines of communication open.
- Make contact. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly team meetings with your camera on. Of course it would be ideal for you for your team to all turn on their webcams as well, but these meetings are not about you. These meetings are touch points with your best assets; your colleagues that rely on you for leadership, guidance and workplace wellbeing. Note that some might not have a camera, some might be insecure about showing their home, some might have inadequate connectivity at that moment in time. The important part is your team seeing you. Look into the camera and make eye contact. Have a light agenda, but preface with something relatable. Example, this week my team meeting began by acknowledging that the George Floyd situation weighed heavy on my mind and in my heart. It’s important to be human and support humanity. It’s important to validate feelings and chaos. It’s important to recognize others in general. These meetings get easier over time. A cadence and comfort level will develop. You don’t always need big news to share. Thirty minutes is ample. Encourage discussion and allow questions. Amidst all the disruption, a bit of connection does a mind good.
- Encourage down days. As a latent introvert tucked inside an extrovert shell, the work and lack of physical connectedness is exhausting. The initial challenge in rapidly moving to a work from home scenario was turning off. Typical days ran from 16-18 hours until the realization hit that the incoming communications would outlast the computer. Walking away at a reasonable hour proved to be an early best accomplishment. One would think back-to-back online meetings would be less exhausting than a traditional, on-premise work day. For many, myself included, this is not the case. In this new work environment, amidst rolling furloughs, uncertainly about student enrollment numbers in the fall, no vaccine in sight, children at home, escalating priorities and multiple high-impact projects in progress, a self-defined down day provides a much needed cathartic break and opportunity to detach. Our new normal is very go, go, go with little escape. I’ve encouraged my team to identify a day. One day a week where they do their best to catch up on paperwork, keep their calendar booked, take a walk or two outside, renew, refresh, recharge. A team is only as strong as its least whole person. Recognize the power you have in helping them de-stress and return whole.
- Model behavior. If you encourage breaks, take breaks. If you end a meeting early with parting words like, “It’s a beautiful day. The remaining 10 minutes of this meeting need to be spent outside, enjoying some fresh air,” then you need to get outside and chase a squirrel or walk around the block. If you ask folks to detach over the weekend, unless it’s a burning emergency, do not contact them. Why? Because they will read it or, worse, respond to it. Because you are their boss. Model the behavior you want to see in your team. It is the only way they will embrace these efforts geared to soothe their weary minds.
These ideas are easy. Easy to implement, yet more challenging to keep routine. If they seem frivolous, know they are not. For those that experience dark days, the pandemic has exacerbated that darkness. This is an instance where you can be their light. Is your team worth it? Only you can answer that. But mine is. So I will continue supporting them, encouraging self-care and walking the talk.
[Originally posted on Forbes.com, June 5, 2020 https://www.forbes.com/sites/paigefrancis/2020/06/05/3-actionable-steps-to-supporting-the-well-being-of-your-team-today/?sh=1a52c3fa542a]