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Last week I had the opportunity to co-present “Leadership is evolving daily” with Deb McQuinn from Strategic Resources Network on our Tactical Tuesdays webinar. I’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways in this quick article…

Teams and employees have never needed great leadership more than now given these unprecedented times.  Watching political and organisation leadership around the globe, Covid-19 may be known as the time when leaders stepped up in a crisis.

Communication and Management Strategies

Many managers and business owners will be leading remotely for the very first time and have demonstrated agility in this challenging environment.  They’ve used this opportunity to rethink their communication and management strategy.
Here are some of the ideas that teams have been implementing;

  • Morning meeting or ‘huddle’  – by phone or preferably online meeting with cameras on, everyone shares their priorities for the day.  Establishes a routine and ensures focus is being applied to the right tasks.
  • Lunches – make it fun.  Deb shared a great story of a “Pub lunch” where there was a competition for who could prepare the best schnitzel.
  • Walk and talk – not every meeting has to be on video conference.  Why not get some exercise while working? (using phone audio or even Facetime).  
  • Friday night drinks – it’s time to switch off for the weekend.  Why not incorporate a team game?  Charades could be interesting over zoom!


Recognising the individual needs of your team

The challenges individuals are currently facing are extremely varied.  Some staff  may be confined to small shared accommodation, others are helping children with remote learning whereas others may be missing the office as it’s a social outlet.  People will be having their individual challenges so the role of a manager and a peer becomes critical.  Many managers will already have 1 on 1 catch-ups with staff, and they’ll find some staff will need these more often than others.  Accidental interactions in the office, where you have a chat in the lunchroom or at someone’s desk are critical to continue collaboration and engagement, so when working remotely, encourage your team members to have virtual coffees or a walk and talk with each other.  This will continue to foster team collaboration.

It’s clear for many that communication has changed since social distancing was introduced, and possibly Covid-19 has changed things going forward.  One challenge that many leaders may be facing is accessibility for staff.  Many business owners and managers are busier than normal which could cause staff to be reluctant to call out for help or ask questions.  This can particularly be a challenge for relationships where a lot of informal communication is held or an employee is quieter or passive.  Establishing a framework where people can raise questions either in person or via a digital means can maintain or increase productivity.


Measuring and enhancing performance

Measuring staff output for a lot of organisations can be quite challenging, especially in certain admin roles in an advice practice.  Under ‘normal’ operating conditions, this can lead to people making assumptions based on how busy someone seems to be or how many hours an employee is in the office, in which case perception and reality can often be very different.

Aligning each individual’s output to a company’s objectives is extremely powerful, and not just for the company.  Individuals want clarity, measurable outcomes, coaching and trust.  There’s nothing more powerful and fulfilling for a team member than to know they are meeting and/or performing better than expected.  Imagine playing a competitive sport without a scoring mechanism, are we winning or are we getting better?  What happens if we are not winning and an individual is behind on their performance measures? Having a scoring mechanism in business can enable one of the most powerful environments of all – the ability to coach.  

Measurable Performance Indicators are great to provide clarity on work output. (eg expected turnaround times or volume of certain client activities). Another of our trusted experts, Vanessa Bennett also encourages teams to have BAM indicators – setting expectations for what you expect from yourself and your team in the areas of Behaviours, Activities and Mindset.

Be aware however, that sometimes a fear of accountability can create negative sentiment towards measurable KPIs (or BAM’s) , therefore positioning becomes critical. 

Assume that your business was about to roll out new measurable KPI’s or BAM’s.  As the manager you are briefing the team at your next meeting.  “We believe it’s important that you have absolute clarity on your daily tasks and defined expectations on the time each task should take and a quality measure to ensure our clients aren’t negatively impacted.  These tasks are also aligned to our client commitment and service standards and to the company’s objectives.  For individuals that are ahead of your KPI’s/BAM’s it will give you great positive reinforcement and for individuals that are behind it will identify the areas where we can provide individual coaching and support.”

Managing and leading teams is one of the most rewarding experiences.  I’m confident Covid-19 will have a lot of positive experiences for leaders of many organisations.


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