Making Do With Less

As the reopening continues, leaders are once again facing new situations. The “current normal” (I don’t want to call it the “new normal”) is about making do with less. Fewer people are doing the work of many. Expenses are under scrutiny.

Leaders have been inevitably stressed with the myriad difficult decisions that have been made in the past several months. But it’s important to remember that everyone is stressed.

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You Set the Tone

Although parts of the U.S. are reopening and people are slowly returning to places of business, many companies are still operating remotely and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The changes in the business environment have been exceedingly challenging for all leaders, and you should feel great about keeping things together as much as you have during the past three months.

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Your People Are Watching You…What Are They Seeing?

Most of you are still leading remotely with your staff also working remotely, sometimes even with a skeleton crew in your place of work. Although we have become more accustomed to this after two months, it still feels surreal, doesn’t it?

I know you have been working tirelessly to keep everything together at your company. The new rules of work are changing all the time, so you’re reacting as the environment morphs.

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Attitude vs. Skills

What changes would you like to see in your team when you transition from sheltering at home and begin to return to the workplace? This is a great time to rethink higher standards and to articulate those expectations to your staff.

Here are some extremes to observe from the past six weeks or so. When working remotely, have your people:

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Deflect the Tension

Everyone is going through an indescribably rough period with no end in sight. In general, as the weeks go on people seem to be more tense. That tension spreads geometrically when you take it out on your co-workers.

These times are defining for leaders. People will remember you based on how you “show up” now. Leaders will fare better if they follow some basic concepts while the unknowns of the pandemic era continue.

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Video Explosion

Most leaders had experience with video conferencing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it seems that it’s everywhere. Resources such as GoToMeeting, TEAMs (Microsoft Office) and the now ubiquitous Zoom have overnight become essential communication tools.

Leaders who are managing a remote workforce should use one of these as part of frequent check ins with your teams. It gives you a little more information on how your staff is doing when you can see their faces on video rather than simply listening on a conference call.

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Create Some Structure

How are you and your staff handling the “new normal” of working remotely, that is, working from home during this pandemic? This is still relatively new to many, and one of the things that helps is to create some structure.

You need to stay connected to your staff, so you want to establish a check in time as a group and/or individually at predetermined times of the day. Here are some things to consider as you get into this groove.

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Closing the Perception Gap

An excellent way to close the gap between an employee’s self-perception and yours is to ask for a self-evaluation. This is something that can be integrated in your annual performance appraisal process.

I recommend that you include qualitative and quantitative questions in the self-appraisal. Think about asking 8-10 questions and ask for specific answers.

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Is Your Team On Board?

Do your employees’ work habits support or detract from your business? Are they slated for strong performance in the future?

Be honest when you think about your answer to this. Leaders who ignore the impact of the detractors can find themselves in a downward spiral when the pressure is on.

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Love in the Workplace

Did that title get your attention? I hope so, because love in the workplace is all about appreciation. Why not use the Valentine’s Day holiday to enhance your professional relationships?

Be generous in expressing appreciation to colleagues, team members, and clients, in fact, anyone you value. This can be as simple as “thank you”.

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