12 years – and counting – that is the time I have been committed to developing people. As a leadership coach, I know just how much potential often remains unlocked from the people I work with. My job often is to point my clients to their inward potential. People, are amazing – and truly the greatest resource for any company – even in these deeply trying times.
How do you show, and remain deeply connected with your team? Here are some thoughts.
Engagement – Keeping Connected and Informed
We have already seen apps like Zoom and Skype step up to keep teammates connected. Now is a great time to insist on video – seeing your colleagues, in their remote (or home) setting reminds us all the truest circumstances around our personal lives. These can be supplemented with local voice calls. As a leader, now is a great time to practice strong listening skills. Listen to new challenges regarding working from home, and the effects it has on your team. Watch out for who is thriving and who is struggling. Ask how you can be of help to them. Yes, everyone (and you) has been proactively sharing information on how to stay safe, but find out what is working for your team. Now is the best time to truly build and leverage a sense of community.
If your work cannot be taken at home, schedule a weekly call to share and learn from what other colleagues are doing to remain connected and upbeat during this isolation.Brian Ssennoga
Wellness – Keeping Health and Safe
The COVID isolation is unprecedented for many of us and it has taken a big toll on our mental, physical and emotional well-being. As a small or medium business in Kampala, it is unlikely that you have an Employee Wellness program (we know its not a new business idea, but one that will catch on). But there are other programs that support wellness from a workplace point of view – Coaching is one such idea. Offered as a service, performance coaching can prepare team members for tough times like these. Your team would have benefited from clarity of purpose, mission integrity and learning the values of relentless pursuit of results. By filling your team’s minds with ideas to work on, ideas for professional and personal development, you would have prepared for their mental health – a key pillar when one finds themselves isolated. Coaches are essentially counsellors on call. Some companies, like the Kampala Leadership Hub were already offering this service. As a leader, you may be pondering how you can adopt this post COVID.
For that well intentioned medical insurance benefit, outside of the isolation restrictions, your team (and their family members who may be ailing or on medication right now) are not able to step out to see a doctor. Its time to review whether the benefit you extend to your team includes tele-consultations. My friend Dr. Davis Musinguzi and his team at Rocket Health are connecting people to doctors for multiple discipline consultations via telehealth services. The service is affordable, available for corporate and retail offerings. The benefit to your team needs to adapt to include this.
Have you considered personal development as an aspect of wellness? That by creating opportunities for your team to spend some of the extra time on their hands by learning something new, you would in fact create positive impact on their overall wellness. Many companies providing online resources are offering their services at discount, or for free, for nearly 3 months and because you are in tune with your team, and you care about how they are doing at this time, they will be pleasantly surprised when you share such resources with them. Learning something new is a good way to enable your team divert their minds into something useful and of interest. For you, I recommend this Harvard business Review 35minute interactive class on Leading In Turbulent Times.
Brian, What About Real Staffing Challenges?
Every leader has gone through this – the considerations that a) they can keep everyone’s job post COVID-19; and b) they can keep paying everyone as before. These are not easy decisions to wrestle with, and many leaders will be faced with some difficult actions to enable their companies to sustain operations – if they don’t fold altogether.
There is no better time to draw that line in the sand, and to show your team where you truly stand, when it comes to taking care of each other as a team. There will be considerations on operational costs, cash flow, decisions that impact salaries and contracts. Sometimes if your leader is not communicating enough, this brings a worry toll on the team. There might already be guidelines from state actors like NSSF, or PAYE that provide no relief to your circumstances.
The burden to bear, for your people, will always be great. But if you must make considerations related to people costs, here are some thoughts.
1 – Consider now to Pause All Hiring as this allows you to not make commitments such as recruiting, on-boarding and introducing new operational costs. Instead, negotiate with the team to consider taking on more responsibility. Without new hires, there is less people to spread the cash reserves around on.
2 – With all the extra time on your hands, identify roles on your team with greater or lesser relevance. Those with lesser should be realigned to other roles. When things return to normal, we may get back to old teams and old structures. Find ways to keep the team as there’s always a stronger premium on teammates who understand the ethos and culture of the team.
3 – As teammates get a hang of remote (or work-from-home) work arrangements, consider introducing alternate work days and a full on work-from-home day once a week. This may be better grounds for negotiating adjusted pay (and thus reducing, but not eliminating salaries). When work resumes, you will also be amazed at the operational savings on utilities, office provided food, and the use of other materials, supplies and equipment.
4 – In the wake of sacrifice, do not be afraid to show the team the vulnerability of cash-flow. Afterall, if you do not have enough, you actually can not pay them, and anything else. Invite everyone to offer to take a % of their salary as a cut, or a deferral. Use a percentage, so that its equal sacrifice across the board and always start at the top – to show a committed example to juniors. Invite more invested colleagues, such as co-founders and/or senior managers to consider a voluntary deferment of payment.
The current restrictions took effect in the final 3rd of March. Many leaders would have already provided for this month, and some organizations would have runway through April and May. As the new month has began, this cash-flow would have supplemented runway down the line. Ask now, which of our work processes will earn us money within 4-6 weeks. prioritize this, and offer to support the team members that deliver on these processes. This will help you to remain afloat.
If you must find new ways to reduce operating costs, and you are looking to reduce headcount, make this decision now, so you have ample time to give legal notice, and negotiate for compensation in lieu of. Work with a good coach, to maintain as much dignity and humanity in the processing of staff exits. Be thoughtful, fair and remain compliant of internal and external employment guidelines.
Remember, until we are through with this, #BeSafe as you #StayAtHome.
This may sound crazy to a recent graduate – but, and I mean it, get yourself a copy of the book Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz. There are 4 important things you need to do and they are very well elaborated int this book.
First. Welcome to the social world. Your network is going to be a key measure of your destiny. You are going to hear about social networking and social contagion theories – (c’mon, you can google that, right?) – essentially your net worth is going to be determined by the people you interact with. Start now, to think about how you fair in the social game.
Second. Don’t keep score. You will get many opportunities in the coming future, to help someone else get ahead. You will be tempted to keep a score card – some call it paying it forward – but do not fall into that trap. Give to the people around you because you truly want to make sure other people get what they want. Now is a great time to learn to volunteer. Do not ever attend a networking event to give out your business cards – always go to meet someone’s need – introduce them to someone you know, invite them to a coffee, or give your time and skill to get them to achieve something. Give, and give. This is about building your social capital.
Third. Remain in Touch. You (should) have a smartphone, it can store up to 500 contacts – the other 1500 – just kidding- can be stored on your email contacts app. Make it a point to reach out to your contacts at least once a month. For some, email, others, text or call, and yet for others, schedule time in person. Yes, you have to reach out to your contacts all the time – not just when you need
Forth – Choose to become the ‘king of content’ using your social media to
make truly meaningful connections. This starts with figuring what your voice is going to be. What do you want to be known for? whatever you choose your voice to be, your social media needs to communicate this. Before long there will be people coming to your pages for insights and specific knowledge – and if they don’t remember, Facebook will remind them 1 year later about all your amazing wisdom in that area.
Now about that resume you are going to drop a million times… please and please do not get tempted to say you are an expert (or use words like seasoned, accomplished et al). Not yet. You see when you face your first interview panel, for a job, we are evaluating for authenticity. Actually, we know you just left school, so we know you haven’t worked much yet. Mostly, I want to hear about reasonably believable wins from the few experiences you have. Your honesty and self awareness becomes more valuable at this time, than any padding you might add to your resume. When you face hiring managers, like myself, you best know I will have detailed your resume pretty well, and I will be looking for what isn’t there. As with everything in life, the truth always wins out.
Fifth. Do some career mapping. What kind of boss do you want? Which kind of colleagues do you fancy? Not every job or sector is going to work for you. Not every commute makes sense. You are going to need skills, knowledge and many experiences. You need to know which job or organization will give you what you need in that moment in time. when to chase for what. When it comes to finding the right career, there’s many narrow paths of wisdom. Find the one that works for you. To do this, speak to career coach. Attend a career mapping session with the Kampala Leadership Hub this coming month, and let us support you to make the right decisions about the future.
What’s Next? The answers to this question are more inward than they are outward. The rest of us are here to nudge you along, but you already know what’s next.
The hustle is real.