With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders are confronted with the task of keeping their teams engaged and motivated while facing the crisis.
Keeping your team together and thriving doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right strategies in place. Here are three tips to keep your team moving forward and examples from firms who have created strategies that work.
TIP ONE: COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE.
Communication is always essential to motivate and engage others, but even more so right now when most of us are separated from our routine work environment. Leaders must be proactive, empathetic, and intentional with their communication. Especially as teams adapt to new working conditions, more communication is preferable over less. Although it may feel like it, it is highly unlikely that you are currently overcommunicating with your team. In fact, the opposite is more likely true.
Moreover, listening is equally and often more important than talking. Listening provides an opportunity to demonstrate empathy and support for others, build rapport, and can foster greater levels of trust among group members. Of course, on the flip side, this is the time to make sure your team is also doing their fair share of communicating and listening. If this isn’t the norm, then modeling the behaviors you want others to adopt is one path to creating a more cohesive and resilient group.
A lack of communication can close people down and cause distrust followed by unfounded rumors. During a time of crisis, some negative messages are inevitable. You might not have or be able to share all the details but keeping your team in the dark is not a practical solution either. Provide the information that you can in a professional manner, don’t substitute assumptions for lack of information, and allow others to ask questions. This will ease fears and allow people to keep moving forward. Demonstrating a commitment to keeping your team informed can increase their confidence in your ability to lead them through a crisis.
Decide what works best for you and your team in order to maintain a consistent social platform for communication and demonstrate a virtual “open door policy.” Regardless of the frequency, these are opportunities to connect, ask questions, discuss concerns, share accomplishments, and get feedback.
Managers at a biotech company started reaching out to their employees every two to three days to check on them and their families. In addition, the company held an interactive, live forum led by the senior management team. Employees could ask questions which ranged from individual and company concerns to questions about COVID-19. A survey was sent to all employees to determine if the live forum was an important use of time. Feedback was extremely positive, and now these forums are being held on a weekly basis.
TIP TWO: LIVE YOUR COMPANY’S CULTURE
In the same way that individuals rely on their own personal values to stay strong and achieve their goals, this is an opportunity to explore the strengths of the team and how team values align with the values of the larger organization. This strategy can help to keep team members connected to each other, their key objectives, and the larger company culture. Talk about the values that drive your team and how they can help the group move through this time and into the future. When everyone on your team is passionate about what they do, individual members tend to feed off that energy. Whatever the shared values of the team and company culture may be, leaders and team members need to find specific ways to keep that passion alive when members are in different locations or working virtually.
Employees at a large real estate services company are communicating daily with their teams by making personal calls and sending texts. They are recognizing that this is an opportunity for them to live and demonstrate their espoused values of relationship and community. The teams are holding strong and know that they will get through this together. By focusing on their customers first, it has been keeping their minds off their own personal concerns.
TIP THREE: COMMIT TO TEAM DEVELOPMENT
When going through difficult or unfamiliar situations, it’s easy to lose
momentum by focusing only on challenges. This applies to teams as well. During times of ongoing uncertainty, providing constructive feedback and ongoing learning opportunities can make the difference between acceptable and exceptional team performance.
As leaders look for ways to normalize the workplace, committing to additional team development can be a powerful motivator to increase commitment. There are a variety of ways to better understand individuals and the roles they play in team dynamics. As a first step, using an inexpensive assessment tool (e.g., DiSC, MBTI) can provide a better understanding of the personality, preferences, and behaviors that individuals bring to the workplace. From there, identifying the group’s strengths, challenges, and blind spots is key to uncovering personal and professional development opportunities for your team. Short-term and ongoing team development are both important approaches for growing individual and group capabilities that can help maximize your team’s performance and engagement.
While we might not feel prepared to manage through the pandemic, we can keep our teams moving forward by communicating consistently, reinforcing company culture, and committing to team and individual development. Keep these things in mind to help your team stay engaged, motivated, and working toward shared successes.
The Managing Partner of a global executive search firm is proactively working with her team to leverage their strengths and seek out individual and group opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. She decided to use assessments to gain a better understanding of each team member’s unique profile and jump-start an ongoing discussion around their effectiveness as a team.
DHR’s Leadership Consulting group advises clients on their most important leadership and talent management challenges. We focus exclusively on leadership advisory and assessment services, with a mission to help your business succeed through leadership. Selecting and developing the right talent is the single best way to help organizations, of all shapes and sizes, achieve maximum impact and economic value. Whether your organization is identifying future CEO candidates, creating more effective teams, or coaching high potential talent, our team of experienced professionals help you make fast and accurate decisions.