In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have had to face multiple existential fears at once. Besides being concerned about health and safety, they are now worried about a potential financial crisis. Some fear for the future of their companies, their jobs, and possible unemployment.
Social distancing measures may prevent the spread of the virus, but they’ve inevitably affected our daily routine in numerous ways, both in our private and professional lives. Many people shifted to working remotely, some of them for the first time – in an inadequate working environment, with a severe lack of human interaction, where they can hardly make a clear distinction between their personal and professional time and space.
Your role as a team leader changes during uncertain times, too. In addition to employing essential teamwork strategies to keep your team efficient and focused on their work, you also need to help your employees cope with all the challenges, fear, and anxiety they’re experiencing. Here’s how to do all this successfully and help your team do their best work:
1. Accept the Uncertainty
Let’s get something straight – one of the worst things you can do as a team leader is to ignore or deny the uncertainty your team members might be facing.
Bottling up emotions will do your team no good. Despite their best efforts to carry on with their daily activities, they’ll feel uncomfortable and disengaged with their work if they don’t have a safe space to voice their concerns. As a result, their productivity will suffer.
Recognizing the stress and anxiety you may be feeling yourself is the first step towards acknowledging the emotions of your employees. Don’t be afraid to express your concerns to your team members, and inspire them to open up as well. If some of your employees find it extremely hard to cope, try to encourage self-compassion, and look for more individualized support.
However, don’t let it turn into ranting sessions – look for concrete solutions and actions that you, as a team, can take to avoid the worst outcome.
2. Make Sure Your Employees Have Everything They Need
As there are no signs that this situation will resolve shortly, remote teamwork will be our reality for a while, whether we like it or not. If you want to ensure your team is productive, you need to check whether they have all the tools they need to complete their work efficiently.
Start with the most basic things – do all of your employees have comfortable chairs they can work in? How about a fast internet connection, as well as laptops, headphones, monitors, and so on? Lastly, look for specific tools and be careful when choosing business software your employees will use for communication. Don’t presume everyone knows or is comfortable with using technology solutions such as Zoom, Basecamp, or Slack.
Check in with them regularly and look for ways to support them. Most of the time, you will be able to find a solution that won’t make a hole in your budget but will do wonders for your employees’ productivity.
3. Set Expectations
No matter how challenging the situation is, your team members need to know precisely what is expected of them when it comes to their deliverables or their work process. This will keep individuals more focused on their work and improve your team’s cohesion, as the members will know they’re all working together to achieve the same goal.
When setting your expectations, try to be realistic and adjust your goals to the situation your company and your team members are in.
Setting expectations also means that each team member will be accountable for their performance, as well as for the team’s output. To evoke a sense of accountability, your team needs to feel connected by regularly staying in touch with each other.
Ensure you have regular chats and check-ins. Don’t hesitate to spell out the expectations when it comes to attending the scheduled meetings if you want things to run smoothly.
4. Give Your Team Members the Power to Grow
Empowering your employees to improve on some of their soft skills can do wonders for boosting team productivity. Time management skills, such as planning downtime or learning how to manage distractions, are extremely important now that the lines between home life and work are getting blurred.
There are also science-based hacks for staying focused, which can help your team members thrive and be better at what they do. Many people are still not familiar with basic techniques, such as Pomodoro, Eat the Frog, or the Eisenhower Matrix, all of which can be quite helpful. Encourage your employees to learn about them and utilize them.
5. Focus on Employee Wellness
When times are uncertain, your employees’ health and fitness goals take on a new dimension. It’s what will keep them sane and focused.
Remind your team members to take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. You can achieve this by hosting regular webinars that would stress the importance of fitness and exercise and explain their effects on emotional resilience. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can help your employees remain agile.
You can take the support to the next level by providing weekly sessions with a clinical psychologist for the employees who need it.
Many people started having trouble with sleep since the pandemic outbreak, so you might also want to talk with them about sleeping routines and wake-up methods. There are easy ways to change a morning routine that can help your team members be more productive during the day and lead a happier life.
These wellbeing initiatives will show your team members that your company values their health and wellbeing most. And that’s something they will recall and cherish long after the uncertain times are gone.
Remember that in times of stress, uncertainty, and doubt, your leadership can make all the difference when it comes to how well your team performs.