Leaders might be in for a surprise as workplaces begin to reopen. While many employees have faced varying degrees of legitimate strain under our current climate, they’ve also experienced silver linings associated with dispersing from their workplaces. Performing under pressure has caused many teams to stand together, communicate more frequently and preserve their sense of community.
Earlier this month, I posted a blog about practices worth preserving that have sprung from these unusual circumstances. Many leaders have stepped up to compensate for social distancing. You may recall bestselling author and consultant Pat Lencioni spoke of a CEO who holds office hours one day a week—for the entire day.
According to Pat, this CEO is literally online working in front of a live computer so any one of his employees can use the video link provided for that day and visit him to chat. Visits vary from purely social to strategic and tactical. His people find comfort in knowing they have access to him even in challenging times. I guess you could call this an open-screen policy.
No matter what roof you work under—whether it’s the company’s or your own—what remains constant is your staff’s desire to maintain improved connections and culture with their colleagues. Let’s face it, leadership is tough right now and paying close attention to the needs of your colleagues is of paramount importance.
Culture expert and author Michael Stallard explains that most organizations make the mistake of prioritizing task excellence—or the quantitative and analytical aspects of business. Leaders with this focus fail to meet basic human needs that actually maximize an employee’s contributions to their organization. Instead, leaders must target their energies on the qualitative side of business that sustains workers during stressful change.
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Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht says the pandemic has created a greater focus on these basic human needs, such as active listening to staff and keeping a pulse on employee sentiment. The new working conditions have caused a more transparent and candid approach to the company’s communication and culture. Albrecht says they’re polling all employees to understand how people do their best work now. “We don’t expect to go back to the way things were. Empathy and action will drive higher levels of employee engagement and will ultimately lead to better business performance.”
It’s no accident that how we relate with one another has bubbled to the surface in the midst of all this disruption. If the last several months have taught us nothing else about the workplace, bricks and mortar are a secondary concern when you consider the impact a connected culture has on personal well-being and performance. As you guide your company into the future, don’t forget to check the rearview mirror and remind yourself what’s worth revisiting. You might be surprised by what your employees don’t want to forget about a crisis.