Fifteen weeks and fifteen blogs in lockdown is finally over. Last week was ‘back to school’ for us at Your Own Place. For many, back to school has so many other resonances right now, and I can only imagine how this uncertainty feels for many.
So what do you do when you’re welcoming a team back from furlough to massive uncertainty, changes in your direction and all on top of their own personal challenges?
As someone who is pretty focussed, resilient and driven it can be easy to assume that others are too. The truth is that we are experiencing this next phase differently, just as we did the lockdown phase. Whilst HR departments are better in recent years at taking a holistic approach to employees, this has never been more important.
My principle aims are to be clear and honest. When so much uncertainty abounds, I meet chaos with calm. Without a shadow of doubt there is a great urgency to what happens next. This can still be delivered with a compassionate approach. If compassion, empathy and tolerance aren’t your values, I’d say now is a good time.
Second for me is honesty. There is almost nothing that you can’t share with your team. It might not be a great message, it might even be too late because it’s out of your control. What’s more it may be a message that is difficult because of something you got wrong. Honesty about this will be appreciated – not making mistakes right now seems pretty implausible, to not to admit them would be weirder still.
Creating a safe space may seem to take time. One where employees can ask the silly questions, voice their anxieties and be open about their struggles. It can be achieved quickly. By treating people decently, avoiding blame, praising specifics and taking ideas on board you can quickly create a safe space. A safe space is one where the team get to make the business a better one. I reckon this is a pretty virtuous circle.
Authenticity is talked about a lot and I’m still figuring this one out. The best anecdote I’ve found on this is one I came across recently in The Culture Code. A jet plane, almost certainly destined for almost total wipe out, is saved by the captain’s three words to his crew. ‘I need you’.