Non-essential workers have been required to work from home for nearly 10 weeks now. The initial shock is starting to fade as many have transitioned into remote work being the new norm and have a rhythm to this new work style. As a leader, you might be asking yourself how you’re going to keep yourself focused (and sane) while continuing to move your team forward. And also had concerns regarding the overall well-being of your employees.
We recently cohosted a webinar on the topic of “Supporting Mental Health with Coachable Skills for Employees” with the incredible team at Bravely. Sarah Sheehan, Co-founder & President facilitated a discussion addressing this topic and below we are providing a summary of key take away messages. You can also view the recorded webinar here.
Three Important Mind-Sets
An effective way to manage the unique circumstances we’ve experienced since March is to look at this as an opportunity to lead by building three mindsets within yourself, and extending those mindsets to those you work with. Your example will set the stage and tone for your organization.
The first step is to give yourself permission to remove the “mask” that you typically show up with at work, and to be real and honest with yourself and your teams about how these changes have impacted you. By doing this, you will begin to invite empathy into your own life, and into the workplace. By sharing your story, you will build trust, and provide a space for those who are experiencing similar stress to share even if they do not know how. The following mindsets may be useful for yourself and to lead your teams to the other side of the pandemic.
Mindset 1: Embrace Vulnerability
In the current work landscape an effective way to foster productivity is by embracing vulnerability, by being a vulnerable leader. This will create a team that trusts, and that is willing to move forward together.
- It’s important to acknowledge the reality of what is happening right now.
- It’s important to ask individuals questions that move past the general “how are you?” Ask open ended questions that prompt employees to talk about how they are feeling. Some of these questions might feel outside of normal boundaries, but it’s important to move past surface level discussions.
- It’s important to recognize now and always that people are more than just their work. Create a space for people to talk about more than just work.
- It’s important to remember that some may not want to engage in this type of conversation and that is acceptable.
- Reinforce this message by checking in continuously and consistently.
Mindset 2: Build Resilience
Building resilience in yourself and others will give your teams the motivation to show up every day and do their best work. It is especially challenging in present day with all of changes, and added responsibilities at home. Building trust and letting employees know you have their back will encourage them and give them strength to get to the finish line with your organization.
Building resilience in yourself:
- Develop coping mechanisms to help manage your own mental health around exercise, sleep, meditation, or anything that gives you the opportunity to gain mental clarity to feel refreshed.
- Learn to respond, not react. This will mitigate burn out. By learning to respond, we can better manage our emotions.
Building resilience in your teams:
- Make a plan and provide clear direction.
- Identify and remove barriers so that individuals can do their best work.
- Appreciate your teams, recognize their productivity and hard work, believe in them, and support them.
Mindset 3: Foster Agility
Agility means being able to move quickly and easily. In your normal day-to-day routine in the workplace, you may have previously answered yes to the following three questions, but you may not be who you were 3 months ago. Consider the impact of recent changes (eg – school from home, sick family and relatives, loss of income, etc.) and how they may cause your team to struggle.
- Are you comfortable operating without all of the information?
- How do you deal with ambiguity and frequent context switching?
- Have you created space and resilience in yourself and others to act quickly?
You can foster agility in your teams by letting them know that while this is the “new normal” right now, it will not be forever. It’s key to over-communicate plans, involve employees in decisions as often as possible, and reinforce that even though many plans have been scrapped or changed, this is a development opportunity. Remind employees that they will have the opportunity to exercise muscles and do work they may not have been able to do, had this not happened. Working together teams have the opportunity to come out of this stronger with experiences that may have otherwise never had the opportunity to develop.