COVID-19 brought changes that seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Suddenly most people were working remotely, offices were empty, and businesses were scrambling to keep up. Very few people would have seen this level of change in such a short period of time. The impact was dramatic. And in the midst of all this drama there are some great lessons to be learned about people, teams, and culture. Are you adapting to these lessons?
The simple things
The biggest has been the simple things. Connection, conversation, communication, interaction, the things that make us human and appreciate other humans. These are often overlooked in the “busy-ness” of the working office but suddenly COVID-19 has forced managers and leaders to not only check in with people, but to care! Smart leaders are realising they need to check how their team members are feeling and whether or not they are “OK.”
It’s needed because people are in isolation, but how often have people turned up to a busy office and felt isolated, alone, and unappreciated? Prior to COVID-19 it was happening too often! Hopefully leaders are learning that people need connection and work better when they are part of a caring team.
COVID-19 has also forced leaders to manage differently. Employees are no longer “visible” and work tasks can’t be supervised as easily. The clever and adaptable leaders are quickly learning they need to manage by outcomes instead of tasks or daily activities.
When people are working remotely it’s extremely difficult to supervise their every move. So learn to set an outcome and then assess whether or not that outcome has been achieved. It’s a skill that will be needed well beyond the current crisis.
The power of culture
The final lesson is the importance of a strong culture. What has this crisis taught you about your culture? Are people staying focussed on the bigger picture and delivering great outcomes or are they getting lost in the stress, turmoil, and all the change that is taking place?
A great culture will not only survive but thrive in adversity. This is because people are united and aligned in their desire to deliver a great outcome. They feel a deep personal motivation for their work and the people they work with.
How do you achieve such a culture? Start by building it on an inspiring foundation. Talk about the purpose of your organisation. Why you exist, the contribution you are making in the world, and the contribution you are making right now in the middle of this crisis. You need people to align with a strong and compelling purpose. They don’t need to have the exact same purpose, they just need to align with the company’s purpose.
People will appreciate this conversation and contribute, even remotely, because it’s a conversation they want to have. Deloitte’s 2019 “Global Human Capital Trends” report found that employees want a career, purpose, and meaning from their work. They don’t want to hear about how much money the company is making, they want to hear about the contribution you are making in the world because that gives their work meaning.
Once people are aligned to the company’s purpose ask them what culture they think you need to deliver that purpose. What are the attitudes and behaviours you will need to achieve the purpose and strategy of the organisation?
These two conversations will build an intrinsic motivation that keep your culture strong in difficult situations.
People and culture matter
If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that people and culture matter. People need a personal connection, not just when they are working remotely but at all times, and they need to be part of a strong and positive culture that is aligned to a common purpose. If you can build that now as people are working from home you will have something special when they return to the office.
Written by Ross Judd. Have you read?
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