Are we heading for a global workplace/employee/human capital crash?
Change fatigue. Compliance fatigue. Being told to work smarter not harder. Work-life balance. Lockdowns. Lock-ins. Provide solutions not problems. Delegate. Work from home. Brainstorm. Please don’t put your hand up if you need help, it may be considered a sign of weakness. What a load of rubbish, there is a lot riding on being all things to all people and to be honest, I’m not sure I am up for it.
If we took a moment to stop and reflect, would you sign up for this post (current) COVID world? Through past decades we had ways in which we could connect. Some of us lived in smaller communities and knew our neighbours, some of us connected through church or sport. Families were bigger and lived closer. Today, we don’t always know our neighbours, community groups are more likely to be an individual gym session and WFH (working from home) is commonplace.
I sound like a dinosaur, but it concerns me that we are increasing the demands we place on one another at the very same time we are decreasing our genuine connection. We don’t have a WFH policy at NZIM, we are a client facing business and we need to be present so we can connect with you and your people. For that reason, we don’t allow some of the team to work from home, it would place the burden of the ‘connection and to serve’ on a few and as leader, that doesn’t work for me. Part of working effectively as a team is strong communication, and respecting other people’s time. Communication is now more important than ever, especially as the demands on our home and work lives are under fire. We are all in a period of adjustment and we are in the process of forming new habits. My concern is that these habits aren’t explicit, some weren’t intentional and some have been forced upon us, creating confusion and a disconnection between teams and tasks.
There is another and more important reason I am challenged by a team under pressure working from home. You can’t see them. I don’t mean that I can’t trust them to do their job, I mean I can’t see them with my eyes, sense a change in their behaviour or see when the load is heavy for them. For many leaders this is a big ask, take care of your people even though you are never given the opportunity to connect. Research on this WFH situation is light on the ground and we hear a lot of positive talk about the lack of interruption increasing productivity and I have no doubt at all that if you are an introverted type you will love it.
Fundamentally, there is no easy answer as we are in unprecedented times. Leaders that take control of team connectivity and practice patience will put themselves on a continuous path for growth. Having a clear understanding of how neuroscience plays into team dynamics is key for any leader who wants to strengthen their team.
I started out by saying that our workload is growing, the year is racing by, and projects are mid-flight, the greatest impact I have as a leader is the ability to care and connect with our team. Is it time for us all to return to ‘the office’ and take care of those around us?