COVID-19 challenged businesses across the globe. Teams were stretched thin, and leaders tried to help where they could. As the pandemic comes to a close, it’s time for leaders to refocus their energy on what matters most.
The pandemic tested people across the globe on every level. In their personal lives, folks had to navigate public safety and a loss of freedom. On the professional side, people were thrown into remote work regardless of their home situations or individual skill sets. Leaders had no way to prepare, but they did their best to keep their companies and teams afloat. In the process, however, many forgot to take care of themselves.
In the wake of the pandemic, the business world faces a new crisis: the Great Resignation. In an attempt to combat staffing issues, leaders are working longer hours. This is causing serious leadership burnout. In fact, a recent Verizon Media study found that 66% of bosses suffer from burnout. This comes at a high price. When leaders face burnout, their overall performance and creativity decrease, which impacts their companies.
As a leader, your first response to challenging times may be to overwork in order to help your team. However, you may be doing your company more harm than good. If you really want to show up for your employees, you need to step back and give yourself a break. Here’s how you can be a better leader in the post-pandemic world:
- Ground yourself.
Everyone knows the importance of self-care, yet many leaders fail to implement it. So the first step toward becoming a stronger leader is creating a self-care routine. This doesn’t need to be a complicated process. Simply think about the activities that give you energy and focus. This may be a morning meditation ritual or an afternoon walk. Once you’ve identified which activities help you feel grounded, add them to your daily routine. That way, you can bring your most focused self to your team.
Another facet of self-care for many leaders is spending time with the people they care about. Working long hours and weekends leaves little time for family and friends. Yet spending time with the people you love can bring so much more energy and joy to your life. So go ahead and schedule an afternoon of golf with your friends or plan a weekend trip with your partner. At the end of the day, you’ll be a better leader for it.
- Support your team.
If you’re like most businesses, you’re likely short-staffed right now. This is probably putting a lot of pressure on your team. Since the start of the pandemic, your employees have gone above and beyond to manage a new work environment while also delivering high-quality products and services to your clients. Adapting to all these changes can lead to exhaustion and burnout. To combat this, encourage your team to take time off. Go through your employee roster to see who hasn’t gone on vacation for a while and give them a gentle nudge to use their PTO.
Additionally, take the time to ask your employees how they’re doing. With all the challenges employees face, they need a leader who listens with compassion. Furthermore, when you take the time to listen to your employees, they perform better at work. A recent survey found that 74% of workers are more effective at their jobs when they feel heard. So schedule one-on-ones with each team member to check in on how they’re doing. Let them know that you care about them not just as employees but as people.
- Invest in professional development.
Employees don’t stay with a company for salary alone. They want to work with an employer who helps them grow in their careers. In fact, 92% of employees believe it’s important to have access to professional development opportunities. If you paused professional development opportunities during the pandemic, now is the time to reinstate them. Before signing your team up for a workshop, ask them what skills they’d like to learn. Once you have that information, you can provide your team with growth opportunities that fit their needs. That said, the financial burden that comes with professional development doesn’t have to fall on your company alone. Let your team know that you’re excited to help them grow and are willing to pay for a portion of events and lessons they pursue outside of the office. Even if you can only afford to pay a percentage, you’re still demonstrating your commitment to growth.
These past few years have been a wild ride for all companies. Now that the pandemic is coming to a close, it’s time for you to refocus your energy on you and your team. You are the proverbial captain of your company, so only you can sail it toward safe waters.
Written by Drew McLellan.
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