What a strange few weeks it’s been! The Coronavirus pandemic means that as we all strap ourselves in for what will more than likely be a bumpy few months, leaders globally will likely need to adapt to these uncharted waters to ensure they remain effective and successful.
Fortunately, with technology advancing so much in recent years we are all used to the occasional facetime call and Microsoft Teams meeting. But this is different, teams around the world are now having no work social interaction making collaboration increasingly difficult, no office banter and always having to make their own coffee!
This can make being as productive as normal a challenge, but the good news is that good and strong leadership can make this experience a little easier and raise the productivity bar a little higher.
Having caught up with lots of clients over the past couple of weeks, the key thing many are focusing on is communication. It is critical that a leader keeps communication clear, concise and consistent whilst we overcome the current situation. Email definitely has its place, but is impersonal and difficult to convey emotion. Try using video call as much as possible, applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and facetime are all great ways of bringing teams together or having a more productive one-to-one conversation. At Collingwood we have daily virtual coffee's allowing us to interact socially and not feel too distant, it's really helped the team morale.
Consistency of communication is also very important. Regular contact should be the norm, but its important that this isnt used as a tool to "check-up" on employees and their productivity, but more as a support function and an opportunity for employees to share how they are feeling. One way in which our clients are tackling this is to nominate a chosen individual (not always the leader) to have daily check in calls with the team, 5/10 minutes of social interaction can have a really positive impact, by making this a scheduled check in its much more likely to happen.
Finally, from speaking with lots of candidates it’s clear that employees are feeling the pressure, in addition to being frustrated that they don’t feel as productive as normal. It takes a confident and flexible leader to take the pressure of their team, and understand the reality that its difficult to be as effective at the moment. But by taking the pressure off, and encouraging regular contact points a much more creative and collaborative environment is created - who knows you then might find the answers on how to become equally as productive!
No doubt the next few months will be challenging in many different ways. But the ones experiencing most success during these times will be the teams led by open, creative, collaborative and flexible leaders. Keep communication open and regular and be willing to adapt - we all need to be flexible and understanding over the coming weeks and months.
There's no leadership blueprint for what we are all experiencing with the Coronavirus and how it might impact our future. It doesn't matter where you got your MBA or how many years you have been in a leadership role, we are all in uncharted territory.