• Mike Crofts

Emerging From Crisis - 5 Steps for leading a team out of adversity.

As the lockdown starts to ease, it's important as leaders that we identify a way ahead in the future. We have hit one year of lockdowns and homeworking. For some, work has been unchanged, whether they are on shifts or keyworkers; or they've been busier. But for those who have worked remotely, the thought of returning to the office is daunting. As a leader, how do you lead your team to a happy yet effective place in 2021.

#1 Invest in your relationships Communicate honestly, check on wellbeing and avoid speaking to your team just about work and what you need as a manager. Stephen Covey highlights in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that “to grow trust as a leader you must “invest in the emotional bank account" of your team. Investing in relationships by building trust benefits the outputs in the longer run. Communicate honestly and check on wellbeing. Avoid speaking to your team just about work and what you need as a manager. Don’t ignore who they are and what they are living through outside of the work to do list.

#2 Openly praise and reward Remember to recognise and praise hard work and efforts. Avoid public criticism and accusations around lockdown efficiency. Now more than ever people need praise. Financial rewards and bonuses will be hit in income affected businesses and those in key worker employment will have been working harder than ever for the past few months. We've been in unrecognisable conditions, build team morale by recognising their efforts.

#3 Be honest and transparent about changes ahead. Explain candidly the tasks and challenges ahead. Highlight the challenges that may be faced. Economic forecasters are predicting 2020 will be a lost year for growth. The Bank of England initial reporting highlighted a recession in 2020, whilst an economic rebound of 15% was anticipated in 2021, recovery looks troubled as lockdown continues. Being open and honest about your team and your business's position is shown to create loyalty. Honesty will build trust, and if you can weather the storm, you will have a resilient and determined team through 2021.

#4 Have conversations about working arrangements. Explain the measures that will be put in place for staff safety on a return to the office. Allow staff to voice their concerns. Your team have worked remotely for almost a year. The office environment is being remodelled to allow for social distancing. Hot desking and open plan spaces are no longer the panacea they once were. If your team have worked effectively for months remotely, don't be surprised if they want to continue. At Amodigo, we anticipate a balance needing to be struck between office and remote working indefinitely. A Deutsche Bank survey amongst city workers found that "57 per cent thought they would work from home between one and three days a week once the coronavirus crisis had receded, up from 39 per cent in April 2020".

#5 Mental Health and work. Support staff engagement appropriately and be sympathetic to varying responses to the changes being made. Lockdown will have been tougher for some than others. Lifting the lockdown may be exciting for families with children. But for others who live alone or live with conditions such as anxiety, the change in situation may be daunting. Be sympathetic to this and support staff re-engagement appropriately. Not everyone will react the same to a return to work and many will be feeling pressure.

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