Information is being flung at us from every direction and at times with a level of conflicting detail.
Maybe it’s time to find the courage to say “STOP”. Giving yourself a bit of space and time right now will be good for your emotional wellbeing. Remember we always seem to have enough time to get it wrong twice, but not enough time to get it right first time. Yet that’s what we are all chasing, especially right now when the world is changing so quickly around us. Maybe its out team that is the key to the creation of time?
I personally feel if I have heard the phrase “these are unprecedented times” once in the last couple of weeks, like most people, I feel as though I have listened to it 100 times. This has meant that I possibly have become a little blasé to the phrase without truly associating it to the uniqueness of this time. Lockdown has definitely brought its challenges and had created a national sense of us all being in this together, but leaving lockdown will be when the real challenges start for most of us. For those in a leadership role, for those who motivate and direct the efforts of others, the genuinely unprecedented time are possibly just about to arrive.
Will this change people?
We know that major life events change how we view the world and our circumstances, effecting our priorities and what we now see as important. For most people, lockdown will have been a significant life event in some shape or form. For some, I have no doubt, it will have been fabulous, and they will have thrived. For others, they will still be striving to survive and deal with what has occurred. Leaving lockdown and going back to work will cause some real confusion as we will not be able to go back to what was normal, but we will need to move to the ‘New Normal’.
What might happen next?
As lockdown eases and economic activity starts to pick up, and we will see people steadily venturing out and going back to work, what we will also see is an incredible range of emotions, opinions and challenges presented to us by those we lead. This will undoubtedly range from fear and resistance to those who will be blasé and questioning what that was all about. We all instinctively know that everyone is unique and has their understanding about how the world works, this is of course backed by psychology, it is amazing how many leaders and managers forget to take our uniqueness into account as they explore the needs of their key staff members. Right now, more than ever, it will be so crucial for leaders and managers, to see all of those that they lead as individuals rather than just the group of people that work for me. Our team’s personal priorities, boundaries and focus will have changed, there will be a new normal for all of them. We need to ask ourselves “am I ready to lead them in the new normal?”
Is coaching as a leadership skill needed now more than ever?
We all instinctively like to have a hand in the creation of our own destiny; we instinctively rebel when things are done to us. This is the same for us at work but previously may have been a little more tolerant of poor leadership. Taking a coaching lead approach is probably the answer to the question, “What can I do right now to help my team?”, give them a hand in helping you create their future. Coaching is all about asking questions and understanding where someone is on their journey rather than assuming you know best. The late great Sir John Whitmore (Grandad of Coaching) defined coaching as a way of unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them or telling them how to do their job. Coaching becomes meeting people where they are at and understanding their needs right now. Recognising that this may be different from where they were before lockdown as they emerge back to work. Understanding how to give people time, time to speak, and time to be heard will go a long way to let them know that they are essential to you. We are all naturally drawn to those who pay attention to us, those who want to invest some time in understanding where we are in our journey? How are we doing today?
But what if I haven’t got the time?
As I have previously shared, we always have enough time to get things wrong at least twice, but never enough time to invest in getting it right the first time. This is true for lots of things, not just our work relationships. We will need to be mindful of the fantastic people we work with and that maybe we have to take the time to explore how we let them know they are essential to us and that we care. After all, it is probably these very individuals that will support us in making our businesses and organisations thrive again post lockdown.
What can I actually do?
Here is a framework of a coaching conversation that may start you on your journey to better supporting your team. Remember, as the questions because you want the answers and feel it is essential to listen and let people be heard. Don’t fall into the trap of being a wait to speaker. It is important that you shape these questions into your own language.
- How are you and your family doing?
- Do you know what the organisation is trying to achieve? And how you fit in to help us achieve this?
- Do you know what is expected of you right now?
- Do you feel appropriately supported in your role and your workspace? What support would you like?
- Do you need more direction from me?
- Do you feel connected to and part of the team you work with?
- Are you worried or stressed about anything that involves your work?
We all remember and feel supported by those that give us their time and attention. It is those that feel supported that will now go the extra mile for you as you lift out of lockdown.