Following the last year of continuous change, the role of the leader has become more complex. In this blog, we discuss how leaders can continue to enable change – especially as we shift to a hybrid workplace – while supporting the people they work with daily.
This past year thrust leadership into the spotlight as many business models changed literally overnight. During immense change, the role of a leader has always been complex — from helping people adapt by clearly communicating a future vision and being engaged and showing support to ultimately providing encouragement to help people pull through when the going gets rough. This past year has been all of that and more.
We’ve transitioned to a virtual (soon-to-be hybrid) work environment, suddenly and on a large scale. As a result, we altered our human interaction model. We upended our daily work routines, and we (unintentionally) obliterated the boundaries between home and work.
To succeed in this new way of working, leaders must focus on the following three practices.
Digital information flows more freely and is more accessible in a virtual world, which on the surface seems excellent for getting the message out. However, it’s easy for key messages to get lost in the ever-increasing number of information channels and message mediums coming at people. Leaders need to guide what people should pay attention to and help them filter out the noise.
This is also a good time to reassess your business communication norms.
• Do you start your video meetings with a clear purpose?
• Are your key points unambiguous and organized in a logical order?
• Are the next step actions easy to identify?
• How do you gauge if people are aligned?
According to Inc.com, Oprah Winfrey starts every meeting with the following three questions: “What is our intention for this meeting? What’s important? What matters?” You don’t need to be formal to be effective.
2. Provide Engagement and Support
Trust and support have always gone hand in hand. Without face-to-face human moments, it’s harder to build relationships and trust. But it’s not impossible.
Leaders should model the way for their teams by being authentic and genuine in one-on-one and group interactions. Sharing your values and intent, along with a willingness to be vulnerable with others, will send clear signals to your team.
They can also foster teamwork by promoting team norms to establish dependable work schedules and the rules for “virtual” engagement. For example, when we need to be on camera and when it’s OK to turn it off.
And, as we move into the anticipated hybrid-work environment, be conscious of keeping a level playing field between employees when they are working in-person or remote. For example, ensure remote participants have a voice in meetings, encourage the use of video to help people be more present and connected, and effectively use chat to enhance conversations in live discussions.
3. Stay Connected When the Going Gets Tough
More than ever, leaders need to be at the forefront, helping people thrive in continuous change and disruption. Show your humanity, and be vocal about and demonstrate the importance of well-being. Find out what’s happening in your team members’ lives and respond with acts of kindness that show you care. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the realities of working from home and watch for signs of employee burnout. Let people know there’s someone in their corner.
How? For one, take time out for human moments during the day, such as by showing empathy, sharing joys and sorrows, and taking time to celebrate life’s special moments. And encourage people to take breaks to recharge and de-stress — this includes you, too.
Leading during change takes courage, compassion and awareness. However, leaders can help their teams thrive in disruption by engaging in personalized communication, modeling the way for building trust, and being human.
This is the first in a three-part series on Change Enablement in a Virtual World. Stay tuned next month for Change Enablement from the Employee’s Perspective.