As we all work from home more than ever before, and grapple with social/spatial distancing and isolation it’s important when dealing with each other to remember two things:
1st is that communication is key and 2nd is that simple things matter.
Many of my conversations with clients, giving leadership advice, over the past weeks have centred on the simple things and how to keep on making sure that the world of work is effective and positive.
There is a lot of information on social media – and we all know that internet surfing and social media use are up 70% since we went home to work.
People are researching better ways to stay connected and are also topping up on the skill development: and yes there is probably some more web surfing as stress relief.
That is in addition to all the news updates and technical and government updates that we are all being provided with.
No wonder some people are feeling overwhelmed
It’s hard to get things done when you feel overwhelmed isn’t it?
As a leader in these uncertain and unusual times, you are probably feeling it more than most…
- being the go to person for questions from staff
- feeling tired after all the effort to get yourself and your team set up to work from home, but not being able to take a break just now
- staying up to date with all of the business information and government support options that your business might be eligible for
- dealing with working from home – with or without a partner doing the same and homeschooling children
- monitoring your staff well being and checking in
- scheduling meetings more often with fellow managers and with your team
- working on ways to maintain outputs
- dealing with customers and/or suppliers
- limiting contact with your elderly parents and relatives
- making sure you have enough supplies at home and at work
- wondering if that cough is just a typical autumn cold or something else
Communication is key
It’s not only what you ask, it’s how you ask
I remember a couple of years ago when I really felt overwhelmed – so much so that I didn’t know where to start.
I knew there was a lot that needed to be done in terms of tasks and looking after someone close to me, but there were some unknown factors that were holding me back from being able to plan properly.
Does that sound familiar to anyone?
A friend who I spoke to (I called to cancel dinner plans as I needed to get to the hospital) reminded me recently and described me as being “cooked” – he asked me “Is there anything I can do for you?” and I was so overwhelmed that I said no – I don’t even know what I need to do next let alone being able to ask you for help.
Another friend who was onsite with me took a slightly different approach – he hung out with me while I started doing things and just stepped in where he could. (who else is reminiscing about the days before social/spacial distancing?)
His gift to me was not asking, just doing.
My leadership advice, tips and suggestions for you now and for the next few weeks:
- 1. Consider replacing the question “What would you like me to do?” with “Can I do that (be specific) for you?”
- 2. Checking in on how people are managing self care is one thing, yet we need to go a step further and make sure we and others are being kind to each other
- Think a little ahead – schedule gaps in your diary so you can reflect and think and plan – and make time to be kind to yourself
- Keep up your routine, your exercise and your healthy eating. I’ve made sure I have plenty of fruit and water at hand and I’m going for a walk at lunchtime wherever I can as a great physical and mental break from all the video conferencing
- Be mindful of your own well being and if you need to take a couple of hours off – then do it.
- Aim to be device free as much as possible outside work hours
- Remember that it is ok to pickup the phone rather than only to email – a short call or voicemail may be much faster than a long email chain
- Remind people that working from home is still work – we need to remember our agreed values and behaviours and standards. I have heard of some people drinking wine during online meetings – as if you would ever do that when sitting at the table with that same group!
- Now more than ever a little kindness and thoughtfulness will go a long way. Think about the information you can leave in a voicemail – making sure the other person gets what they need by listening to your message rather than phone tag and “Can you call me”
We are all in this stormy environment together.
Each of us may be in different boats but the storm is the same.
If a little change to your communication can ease your life and also someone else’s stress, then please consider it.
If you would like more leadership advice, I currently have places for leadership coaching available and can be contacted here to arrange a quick chat to confirm if we are a good fit to work together.
If not, no problem and who knows, you may get a benefit from that 15 minute chat.
We are stronger together and communication really is the key.