I hope that you, your teams, and your loved ones are well. What a wild few months it’s been. When things started to hit lockdown, I made the decision to press pause on all our content until we knew what the heck was going on and how we would be impacted.
I decided to offer pro-bono 1:1 coaching as a way to provide a sounding board for leaders navigating this crazy time. It was enriching to connect with strangers around the world and feel useful at a time when there was little we could do to “fight”.
And just when I had accepted that this time would be an opportunity to take a step back, try a new pace of life, pick up a hobby, and do a thousand puzzles, my work went through the roof. I’m so grateful to my team for guiding and driving me through this period. We turned our leadership programme into a fully remote model that could handle a team of executives from APAC to California. My brain just wanted to look out the window and watch the birds who were hanging out on our balcony for the first time in 5 years.
From where I’ve been sitting, here are the phases I’ve seen of the isolation period:
- Panic: What’s happening to me, my family, my team, my industry, my plans?! “WTF”
- Acceptance: Stay home, Zoom meetings, develop new habits, join some communities. “I think I’ve got this”
- Low dip: “F U COVID” (direct quote)
- Moving forward: How do I make things work in this environment? Let me understand how we can get better at remote work.
- Swinging between stage 3 and stage 4
No matter what stage you’re at, I’m sure we all have stories we’ll be telling for years to come. I’m trying to avoid using the words “new” and “normal” together while writing this but I’m starting to accept that it’s here. We won’t be going back to how things were, and how things will be is still TBD (to be discovered). This is both exciting and depleting for me. I long for (some) of the way things were but look forward to the acceleration this period has created in the workplace.
Although some managers are using dirty tracking tactics
, and being called out for them
again and again
, moving to remote work means we have to get better at providing guidance, supporting each other, and letting go of being in control. We have to ditch the 9 to 5 handcuffs and let people work when they work best. I’ve heard from countless parents who are trying to parent, homeschool, and work all at the same time. Doubling their output in the same amount of time. We can – and have to – do better.
Here’s what I’ve seen work:
🔹 Organizations giving guidelines on how to work remotely
in this time. I’ve had clients take this “permission” with a sense of relief and feel less guilty stepping away from their computers. Your words can go a long way, so make sure you’re clear with what you expect from your team.
🔹 Go easy on the Zoom meetings. Yes we need to connect, especially if we’re isolating alone, but Zoom exhaustion is a real thing
. Make social work gatherings optional, and ensure your Zoom meetings are effective. Could there be more prep beforehand? Could it be a phone call? Assess everything before you end up in back to back video calls.
🔹 Give your team space to start solving problems with you, instead of feeling like you need to come up with all the answers. We aren’t short of remote working guides anymore, but what works for others may not work for you. Envision the team culture that you want to build and figure out AS. A. TEAM. how to cultivate it remotely. Experiment, have fun, document, and over time, you’ll have created your own playbook.
🔹 Soon you’re going to have to start making decisions on how to operate in this *new* way. Just make sure it’s the correct decision.
🔹 Give yourself space to look ahead. When I consciously took a step back from the feeling of needing to “produce” and “respond” in this time, I could (eventually) start filtering decisions and bets that were right for me and the business, and not ones that I was seeing others do on social media. This post helped me to significantly shift my mindset
It’s time to take our finger off pause and start back up again, the year if far from over and we can work together to make the most of it. In June, I’ll be sharing insights from successfully transitioning our leadership programme to the virtual world and finding it to be more engaging than before, an interview with a Mental Health expert to unpack the role of the manager in supporting their team’s mental wellbeing, and how to ease back into this……new normal