5 Tips for leading your team through post COVID-19 uncertainty.

5 Tips for leading your team through post COVID-19 uncertainty.
July 6, 2020 Linda Murray

Although social distancing rules are lifting, there is still a lot of uncertainty around what will life look like in the coming 6 months and beyond, especially in the world of work.

We don’t really know what to expect but we know things will be done differently. For example, large office buildings are restricted to 2 to 4 people in their elevators, so how will everyone get up to their floors in a reasonable time?

What about physical distancing? Offices need to ensure there are 4 square metres of space per person and a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others if they can. What does that mean for the office layout and how your team can be accommodated?

There are more questions out there than we can answer, so how can you lead your team through this uncertainty, so they are positive and productive?

Today I’d like to share some tips for leading your team through uncertainty.

Tip: Help people plan for the first quarter of 2022 to give them something to hold onto. While this means people will have to face the fact that the future isn’t clear, having even a basic plan will give them a feeling of control. When we feel like we can control or influence what’s likely to happen, it reduces our fear of the unknown.

Tip: Help people discover the new habits they’ve adopted which are serving them well. Your team members have had a taste of the “new work-life”. Some will have managed well, and others might have struggled, yet all of us have probably found surprising new habits or routines which made working from home a little easier. Take some time to talk with your team about what worked and what didn’t so they recognise the habits that support them.

Tip: The traditional 9-to-5 weekday will change, with flexible work hours and remote work increasing. While it sounds great, the truth is that it’s going to be a big adjustment in the long term. People will need advice and support as they start to adapt. They’ll have questions about looking after their own needs, keeping work and home life separate, and how to cope with having the family around while you work. By discussing these kinds of issues as a team they become recognised as ‘normal’. Help your people learn from each other’s experiences.

Tip: Focus on personal and professional development, particularly around technology, to make sure everyone is comfortable, whether using it at work or from home. Digital technology has leapt into our working lives in a more dramatic way than most of us anticipated. We’ve had to suddenly learn how to use new systems, like Zoom, and there was no time for a learning curve. Tech is going to play a huge part in the way we work from now on and it’s vital you find out what your people need, and you help them get it.

Tip: Show them you’re actively planning to protect them at work. If your people are coming back into the workplace, they’ll be concerned about the possibility of virus transmission. This is primarily an emotional reaction.  Leading the team means minimising their fears and doing everything you can to look after them. Don’t assume they will know what you’re doing or will see the changes around them. Don’t assume that they won’t grumble about them despite being relieved about social distancing measures in the workplace. Talk to your people. Tell them what’s happening and what measures you’ve put in place to protect them. Show them you’re serious about looking after them. Now that’s a great way to gain trust and strengthen the honest conversations among you.

Leading people through this period is going to place a heavy demand on your communication skills and on your ability to find positives to take into the future. Are you up to it?

Now is the time you might need some guidance around leading your team and your organisation.

If you’d like to tap into my experience or become part of our Leadership Development Program, contact us here.

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