The COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid changes in how companies do business. Whether your organization is still largely working remotely or is back onsite, it is likely that your team is adapting to many changes in procedures and protocols. Some of the uncertainties that you may be dealing with include:
- Fluctuating virus rates that could result in renewed restrictions or shutdowns
- Parents not knowing what their children’s school schedules may be or how that will impact their ability to return to working onsite
- Employees struggling with financial concerns due to reduced work hours
- Trying to accommodate employees who are at high risk of COVID-19 complications due to health conditions and who are concerned about being exposed to the virus in the workplace
- Pressure to get back “up to speed” or to find new ways to meet deadlines or deliver needed services to customers
Trying to find a balance through all of these competing priorities is a challenge, and there may not be any one right answer. When guiding your team forward, keep these tips in mind:
- Stay current on procedures. COVID-19 may require your team to behave differently. It’s important that you understand what is required of your team so you can both train effectively and help them work through any complications that may arise.
- Provide frequent updates. Changes in procedures, uncertainty about work locations or schedules, and health concerns may create added stress for your team. Frequent updates will steady nerves and stop gossip in its tracks.
- Determine reasonable deadlines. Working from home, staff changes, and new procedures may mean you need to adjust the expected timelines for accomplishing necessary tasks. Talk to your team about a reasonable turnaround based on what any new procedures require. Keep in mind that, over time, your team will likely find ways to more efficiently meet targets.
- Avoid playing favorites. We’ve been in uncertain circumstances for several months, and it’s possible that during the transition you’ve been cutting your team some slack. Over time, however, this may begin to create morale issues, especially if there is a perception that some people are receiving preferential treatment. Make sure you are evaluating performance fairly and according to company policy.
- Ask employees to stay home if they are sick. Now more than ever, it’s important for people to self-isolate if they are sick. Familiarize yourself with your company’s policy on what should occur if an employee has been exposed to or has contracted COVID-19.
- Protect privacy. Many people are coping with difficult circumstances due to the pandemic and its economic fallout. Remember to protect your team’s privacy related to exposure to COVID-19, the death of a family member, or a challenging financial situation.
- Keep your team together. Whether you’re working remotely or in the office, your team may feel isolated from each other. Zoom lunches, socially- distanced pizza parties, and other activities that safely promote camaraderie are a good way to improve morale and help your team maintain personal connections.
- Set an example. During these challenging times, many people are looking for leadership. Your behavior sets an important example. If you buy-in to new policies and procedures, your team will be more likely to do so as well. Maintaining healthy habits and talking about the importance of a good work/life balance is helpful, too.