What leadership conversations do you need to be having with your team?

What leadership conversations do you need to be having with your team?
July 6, 2020 Linda Murray

I’ve had some interesting feedback on my last article about leading your team through uncertainty. It is quite clear that leadership communication will be the skill that pulls us through this strange time.

The question I was asked most was ‘what type of conversation do I need to be having with my team?’. While we touched on some of the topics in the previous article, I think it’s important to look at where we are coming from as leaders because your team is in quite a different place.

What is going through your mind as a leader?

  • How am I going to get this place up and running again?
  • How will we reach full productivity and meet our targets?
  • Will my people cope with change?
  • How have my people survived (emotionally and physically) during the lockdown and how will it affect our return to work?
  • How many people will we lose due to the sudden demands this change put on them?

What are your people likely to be thinking?

  • Do I still have a job?
  • Will I be able to keep up with all the changes or will I have to find a new job?
  • How can I be safe and keep my family safe if I have to go back to the workplace or use public transport?
  • If I must work from home, how can I juggle the new expectations of me from work and my family?
  • My home-based equipment is outdated, and I can’t afford to replace it. How will I keep up with all the new technology?
  • How will we get this project done when we can’t work together?
  • Will I still have enough money to survive if my workdays or hours are reduced?

You can see the difference in focus. As a leader, you’re focused on the future but for many of your team members, their focus is on the now. It’s about basic survival.

What leadership conversations should you be having?

Now, more than ever, you need to be totally honest and transparent with people, and you need to make yourself available to them.

Your conversations need to be two-way.

This is something that can become lost during tough times. Leaders can become so conscientious about sharing what they know that they forget there are two sides to a conversation.

You won’t get your team to look at the future until you (and they) can deal with the present.

What conversations should you be having?

  • How about those who ask people how they are?
  • What about asking them what support they need right now?
  • What about asking for ideas and input instead of trying to solve the problems you think they have?
  • You could ask them what training they feel they might need to help them adapt to the technology.
  • How about asking them how they feel about the current work style (eg, WFH) versus how we used to work pre-COVID?
  • What about asking how they want to work in the future?
  • What about asking them what is worrying them most and how you can help?
  • What about asking them how they are looking after themselves?
  • How about open, honest, and regular conversations with each person?

If you ask and listen, you have a much better chance of ending up on the same page and only then can you start working towards the future.

What are your thoughts on this? What would you like from your leader or CEO?

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