As a semblance of normality returns and companies prepare to take their first tentative steps back into the real world, I’m sure I’m not the only owner who is taking their first deep breath in a while. We’re not out of the woods yet — as a country, or a planet — but it feels like the start of having a handle on one of the most devastating experiences to have happened in recent history. Strangest of all, is thinking this way while we are still in the midst of it.
Nearly nine weeks of working from home has separated the thriving from the strained within our team. For a culture that heavily relies on bouncing energy and ideas off each other, it was a guess from day one as to how both our team and our ideal customer would respond to the economic and humanitarian crisis playing out around us. Acknowledging this change from the get-go was essential. It was vital to ensure staff were informed, supported and encouraged (you can read about what that looked like here).
But now, as we think about returning to a more familiar work structure, a new challenge is presented: What does good leadership look like now? What does my team, and my business, need from me?
For business, COVID-19 created a great study period for what sales under serious pressure looks like. With a business model based around generating positive change for businesses, there was heat from the start when it came to ensuring clients and prospects felt heard and understood. With every man and his dog promising to be ‘here for you’, it’s challenging to get your genuine message across when so many others throw the words around glibly. Thankfully, we saw a positive response, a true testament to how our team was able to function when it came to fostering real relationships and communicating value to busy (and, no doubt, incredibly stressed) owners and decision makers.
Leading that incredible team has also meant acknowledging performance challenges in the face of good business news. In my weekly staff round-up email this week, I recognised ‘the time/energy dip’, and how the strain on our culture has placed many of us at various points on it.
Here’s the message that came with that graph:
“In a dip we make excuses. In a dip we focus on what other people are doing and adjust our own standards. In a dip, we lose focus and forget ‘WHY’. Remember why you set out on this journey, remind yourself of your goals. Don’t hang out in the dip phase, push through it. “
For many of us, a holding pattern has been imposed on us. But we CAN control how we react to this imposition and many of us leant in, kept our eyes on the ball and used a straight bat each morning to stay ahead. We are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, so dig in and focus so we come out as strong as we went in.”
We’re pretty big believers in the concept of ‘Say-Do’: If you say you’re going to do something, then do it, or don’t say it at all. Following Say-Do for me is ensuring management is setting up or adapting our culture-bolstering efforts. This means: ensuring the team knows about our free counselling; more optional Zoom hangouts to reconnect; reinvigoration from team leaders, in the form of education and inspiration; praise given openly and deservedly.
This coming Monday, I’m hosting an “Ask Me Anything” web meeting, giving each member of the team the opportunity to talk about what’s on his or her mind in terms of the future with Choice Energy. It’s the week of a thousand questions, as we inch out of lockdown and look towards a return to the office. I know I won’t be able to answer all of them, but I also know being heard, and invited to use your voice, is a positive step forward in returning to a balanced sense of normality.