“Tough times don’t last. Tough teams do.” And that’s what the New Normal will test.
This saying is so true of the situation that many teams are facing today. These teams may be in the corporate sector, healthcare sector, education sector, or any other sector. A very interesting study was conducted by EY recently & was published in the MIT technology review. It shared an insight into the changes that will occur or are already occurring in the Covid19 era & the impact on the leadership. The New Normal era is here to stay.
In the new order, remote working or staggered working has become a reality for most, except the healthcare sector. The entire last year was a learning phase, and people grappled with this new normal. But the year 2021 does not look very different & most of the companies are still going ahead with limited staffing & work from home options.
Thus, it will become increasingly challenging to keep the moral & efficacy of the team members at par with pre #COVID19 standards. However, as they say, “the show must go on”. Hence the need to devise innovative ways to help our team transition to this “New Normal.”
Make Way for the New Normal:
The biggest challenge of remote teams, or rather remote managers, will be to strike a careful balance. They will need to push productivity while being empathetic to the need and the situation of the employees. Some new challenges are coming to the surface since employees are not meeting face-to-face. Issues like depression, mental anxiety & loneliness are the new culprits leading to an emotional imbalance amongst the younger generation who derive their energies from meeting & interacting with people.
While all of us are going through the same storm, our challenges and realities are very different. Our team management principles will need to be re-aligned to this New Normal. And this New Normal is here to stay for some time.
Here I list down seven basic tenets for the post #COVID19 era. Let us start with some basic housekeeping stuff and move onto the emotional aspect.
Seven Simple(But Important) Things To Remember About Managing Teams
1. Set Work From Home (WFH) Rules
While we understand the challenges of WFH, it is best to define some house rules so that the focus required while working is not hampered. These rules can be identified with the team together. We must ensure all our team members are comfortable with the protocol to be followed. For team members working in shifts, we need to set a schedule for our meetings to accommodate all in different time zones and across all continents. Some of them may include:
- Team meeting duration
- Individual catch up times
- Formats of the meeting
2. Set Work Hours
The individual team members and the manager need to define what will be the work hours. Just because you are working from home does not mean that the hours can stretch beyond the standard days or be compromised. Yes, but there is an option of building flexibility considering some caretaking needs of individuals like small kids or elderly parents.
This consideration is required especially if the kids are still doing online schooling. This means they also need to be managed along with work.
3. Be Empathetic & Humane
The current crisis is the time to collaborate and believe in people & their capabilities, whether it is our team or the teams that support us.
Everyone is trying to adjust to the New Normal; the Emotional Quotient(EQ) must take precedent over the Intelligence Quotient(IQ). And there is a simple way to do this. Whenever you do a business, catch up with your team, include key stakeholders from other streams so that you both can understand each other challenges and come up with the most acceptable solutions. Treat team members (yours or others) like they make a difference, AND THEY WILL.
4. Identify Mentors Within The Teams
Ideally, we should have a mentor-mentee relationship already established in the team. If not, this is the right time to do so as there will be many things that the team members may hesitate to share with their managers but will be at ease while sharing with their mentors.
These mentors can either be senior employees within the same team or from some other group. Our team members should share their fears, insecurities, and any personal challenges he/she is facing someone he sees as neutral and non-threatening. Sharing is essential for a healthy working mindset, especially in these stressful times.
It is also advisable to have some counsellors on board so that your team members can get professional help for their issues if necessary.
5. Target Setting through Flagposts
It almost sounds inhuman to talk about targets in this situation, but the fact of the matter is that we have to get back to business, especially in the corporate world. It will be a ruthless race to get our economies back on track to retain our people and pay salaries.
Hence this is a necessary evil. But let us do this with a heart and in small doses. We can use my Flagpost theory approach to set short-term targets as flag posts and then go strength to strength. Let this target be “OUR Target” and “ We can do this together” rather than pushing the number down the hierarchy. We should own the goal together top-down.
6. Encourage your team members to take up a hobby / have a fitness routine
“All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill & Jack dull, it kills the potential of discovery, mastery and openness to change and flexibility, and it hinders innovation and invention,” says Joline Godfrey, founder and Chief Creative Officer for The Unexpected Table.
Therefore encourage your team members to take up a hobby and keep themselves fit. Apart from work that keeps them physically and mentally occupied, any activity is a great stress buster and a mood elevator, especially in these trying times.
7. Schedule “Fun times”
Let us accept this. Social distancing norms are here to stay for some time, even in countries that are no longer under lockdown. After-office team get-togethers may be a thing of the past. But it does not mean we cannot have fun together.
My husband does these “Downtime calls” every week with his team members, wherein they talk about everything except work. This one hour is all about fun and laughter, with some funny & crazy themes thrown in every week. These calls have become very popular & many cross-functional colleagues have requested him to be a part of these “fun meetings”. Such interactions are also an opportunity to know your team members, primarily if they are based in different parts of the country or the world. If some of them had joined in just before the world decided to move into lockdown, these could be great ice breakers with their colleagues whom they may not meet face-to-face for some time to come.
I want to end on a note from John Mackey (Whole Food CEO) & this applies to any industry. He said, “ If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning”. And this cannot be more true than now the “New Normal”. Whatever is the driving force for your team members – money, family, work passion or boredom, in-office or remote, make all efforts to make them adopt the “New Normal” for all of us to thrive again.
I want to leave you with this beautiful Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on “Why good leaders make you feel safe”. It is six years old Ted Talk but so very relevant in today’s times.
So what do your people say about you especially during this “New Normal”?
Remember, the world is on a bumpy journey to a new destination and the “New Normal”. Make sure you and your team are not left behind.
I seek your honest feedback on this one and whether you found this blog useful. If yes, please do share with your peers & colleagues.