We are truly in an unprecedented time, and everyone is being forced to adapt to the “new normal”. As many professionals have moved from working in an office to working from home, managers across the world are wondering how they can continue to lead effectively, not just remotely, but also in the middle of a global pandemic.
Last week on the Accelity COVID-19 Business Strategy Open Forum, Andrew Metz joined us to discuss increasing team morale and being a strong leader during this crisis. Below are Andrew’s recommendations to best lead your team.
Andrew pointed out that it’s crucial to be approachable right now. Opening up and sharing your human side will help you connect with your team. Focus on meeting people where they are, while also being transparent about where you are — there’s no need to pretend right now.
When someone drops the ball or misses a deadline, you shouldn’t let that go unacknowledged, but there’s no reason to jump straight to anger. Andrew recommended first seeking to understand what happened.
For example, if someone misses a deadline on a huge report, instead of immediately chewing them out, start by asking, “Hey, I know that huge report was due today. Can you help me understand why you missed the deadline?” By asking, you might find out they have something going on at home or an even bigger project fell in their lap that they thought took priority. You can then use this opportunity to connect on a deeper level and provide guidance on moving forward.
While there may be tons of outliers and distractions right now, seeking understanding first will demonstrate how much you care as a leader while still maintaining accountability across your team.
How to increase team morale
The current pandemic is difficult for everyone, and Andrew urges that leaders shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there. It can start by poking fun at yourself (who can’t relate to accidentally watching all of Tiger King in one weekend?) and escalate to sharing your aspirations outside of work.
While working remotely, teams are missing out on a lot of the in-office culture. Instead of being able to ask about a coworker’s family in passing, you now have to schedule a time to do so. That doesn’t mean you should stop making those connections. Instead, you should just be more mindful about it. At Accelity, we use Slack internally and I like to check up on my coworkers on Monday mornings to ask how their weekend was.
Another thing we’re missing out on while working remotely is body language and connection. Be sure to turn your webcam on when in meetings. Try to maintain eye contact, demonstrate body language and do anything you would in a normal meeting to show that you’re engaged.
Right now, people aren’t motivated the same way they used to be. It’s important to reward good behavior that should be repeated. Recognize your team for a job well done. Hold little check-ins to remind your team how much you care about them.
It’s important to consider that your whole team won’t be reacting to this crisis in the same way. Many may be paralyzed with fear while others are itching to get back in the office. Don’t pretend everything is going to be perfect and acknowledge what you don’t know.
Leadership during a storm
As you’re trying to lead during COVID-19, lay out the situation as it is today, take a deep breath, focus on what’s in front of you right now and accept where you’re at. We are in a truly unprecedented time and it’s okay not to have all the answers.
Focus on being empathetic and transparent in order to successfully connect with and motivate your team. Supporting and giving genuine appreciation to your team is the secret to leadership.
As we continue to navigate this situation, we’re still connecting weekly over business strategy during COVID-19. Join us to learn from other professionals like Andrew Metz on how we can all move past COVID stronger than ever.