How you respond and what you do now in these uncertain times will certainly be remembered in years to come, by your team, your customers and your community, and in turn will have an impact on how quickly your businesses recovers once the lockdown is over.
Last week I talked about keeping in touch with your customers. This week my focus is on how you care for your team, who quite understandably will be concerned for their safety, their income and the future of their jobs.
Before the lockdown we were concerned about attracting and retaining talent. Now we have the opposite; what to do with the talent we have. But one thing is for certain, this situation won’t last forever and unless you look after them now and show you care for your team now you’ll likely be back to the search for talent once this is all over.
Here are 5 ideas to show you care about your team and have their best interests at heart throughout the crisis.
I’m sure they’re doing most of these already, but this will act as a reminder.
And let me know what else you are doing to care for your team.
Keeping your front-line team members safe is the priority. If you still have team members travelling into work or having contact with customers, do they have all the necessary precautionary measures:
- Give a choice as to whether they work or not
- Have a means of getting to work without having to use crowded public transport
- Have procedures in place to avoid direct contact with others
- Have access to appropriate PPE
If your team members are working from home, ensure they have what they need to do the best job possible:
- Access to information e.g. via your shared folders, Google docs, or whatever you use internally
- The right equipment; an iPad might be great for small tasks, but has limitations, particularly older models.
- A reliable IT connection (which can vary at different times of day, depending on demand)
- Access to reliable, knowledgeable and helpful IT support; you don’t want them wasting time searching YouTube for answers to simple problems
Yes, there may have to be systems and processes in place for some activities, but new ways of working need new ‘rules’:
- What flexibility do they have around the hours they work to fit in with others at home – partners, children or other dependents.
- Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating control and ownership, which creates a sense of pride
Whether working at home or in the business, ensure you keep your team connected – both to you, and each other.
- Maintain a routine for daily check-ins, when everyone knows they can connect with everyone else (Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams* will allow you to do this). Stick to a schedule or same time each day, so everyone can plan
- Be open, honest and factual. Focus on what you can do for them rather than dwelling on what you can’t do
- Keep them informed of any of the Government advice that is relevant to them and/or the business as a whole
- Offer emotional support
- Keep the team spirit alive, and share some fun and positive achievements, stories or anecdotes
Show you care
Even when social distancing or working remotely all the normal rules of care apply, if not, even more so:
- Don’t forget your normal common courtesies; a simple sunny and cheerful good morning, saying please and thank you, is just as important as at any other time.
- Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems
- Be approachable; not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, so be observant and look/listen for the signs of cries for help, so you don’t leave people feeling abandoned
- Continue to invest in people’s personal development; in most cases they’ll have more time on their hands now (even if just a saving on travel time), so allow them the opportunity to use this time to everyone’s advantage
- The most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them for their support and commitment during these difficult times. It’s stressful for them as well as you.
If you only do one thing:
Every offer of support counts. Let people know you’re there for them, even if the offer never gets taken up. You don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring to know that you’re there to support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or a personal issue.
Remember, as Maya Angelou said “…people will never forget how you made them feel”, so make sure your team feel cared for.
* but I’m no expert on this, so please seek professional advice if you need it.