How the Pandemic Affects Team Members’ Drives
Since March of this year, we have been leading our teams and companies while navigating a changing landscape of fresh obstacles every week, if not every day. After several months in, leaders now realize that this new way of leading, with more and more curveballs consistently being thrown, is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Leaders and their teams have been running on adrenaline and now must readjust and continue to manage change at a more rapid pace. How do we keep our team members focused and energized amid the twists and turns?
Meeting our employees’ needs requires the senior team to refocus on the company’s mission, values or principles, and reworked strategies to ensure that each employee feels connected, supported and motivated to reach the company’s goals, even if those goals are challenging or less than we expected when we launched into 2020. Refocusing is easier said than done, and senior leaders should be intentional about how they go about sharing the path forward, especially if that path requires significant changes, but is no less true for small tweaks to the mission, values, and strategies.
Communicating, or recommunicating, your mission and values is a way to get everyone to rally around the same focus. Revisiting the company’s purpose for existing and defining how employees should show up, through their values, will reinforce “how” each person can get through these changes. It is easy to veer away from company values when faced with challenge. Now is the best time to show your principals and highlight when your team members display them. Is everyone living the values? Recognizing individuals when they display integrity, innovation, collaboration or other, company-specific, values will reinforce what you stand for. Sharing examples when values are played out will give each employee a guide for how to live them day-to-day.
In addition, talking through your broad strategies further aligns each employee’s connection to the bigger plan. Even if your strategies haven’t changed considerably, employees are looking for direction or reassurance that they know the plan and can be a part of the company’s future. If strategies have changed substantially, rallying the troops around this new direction will build excitement now and for the future. Everyone wants to feel as if they are on the same team, instead of isolated, at home in many cases, without a clear direction. The often recommended quarterly strategic check-in meetings and weekly leadership discussions still apply now, as they did pre-COVID. Communicating to all employees along the way, and communicating often, will solidify their understanding and help everyone feel they have impact in making strategies a reality. They won’t just think that their senior leaders are chasing the shiny foil.
How do you know if this approach is working? You will immediately see more energy from all the individuals you interact with. Your personal energy should also increase. Engage the team and help them to think about their work, and how it aligns with the company’s value to its customers. Our environment will continue to be shaky. But we can weather this storm through a strong focus on our company’s mission, values, and strategies.