The Three Little Words that Leaders Should Be Asking... Are You Okay?
By Brett Boyle
Whilst sitting in my spare room-come home office this week, I thought it was important to discuss the experience of working from home, the difficulty behind it and how we are adapting. Most importantly, are you feeling supported or as a leader, are you supporting your teams? I have worked remotely for years, whether it was whilst working in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Ghana or Bangkok. Like many people, I have become adept at working from airport lounges, park benches, living rooms and even the backs of trucks. However, what about those who have not? For a lot of people entering the work force or those who are used to being office bound, the current situation that we find ourselves in is a huge challenge. Also, spare a thought for those whose work usually has them out and about constantly who are now working from home. Different environments for different people can be a huge challenge! The current situation has thrown us all into chaos and when you hear about people working from their baby changing tables or lounges etc because they don’t have the space, as leaders, we need to stand up and ask the question “are you ok? When coaching leaders, especially junior leaders stepping up into new roles, it’s important to remember that YOU come second and YOUR team comes first.
Good military leaders try to ensure that their personnel have everything they need within their capacity and they become scroungers to supplement staples. Simple check-ins and assistance where possible will always build rapport and buy in from your team members. I know of a sales professional who had been using an old iPad for their field work that constantly turned off and the previous Field Manager would throw their hands in the air and say “sorry, there is nothing I can do… We don’t have the budget…”. The Rep reported the faulty device to the new Field Manager who gave them their own device until a new one was located. The instant buy in through a challenging time paid off in spades through increased productivity and engagement with the new leader’s strategy and requirements.
You don’t need to deliver the world however if one of your team needs a chair from the office, give them a chair from the office, it’s that simple!
Most importantly, as a people leader, we need to be focussed on setting the tone of the organisation. Particularly in times as challenging as we are experiencing now striking a balance between positivity and authenticity is critical to ensuring employees feel safe and engaged, maintaining trust while keeping people informed. Recently I heard an off-the-cuff comment made by an operational, non-people leader in a multi national who said “our people should be grateful that they still have jobs…”. It makes sense that people feel this way however our job as leaders is to shift the conversation from this type of language to one that is going to be real, honest but also giving people hope and a sense of belonging. Remember, we are in unprecedented times and that means we need to be creative and constructive to get through to the other side. Check in, support and motivate your team every single day.