by Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive at HRM Recruitment
Considering the shock this pandemic has generated and the many aspects to our lives that have been impacted, the lingering trauma people feel is unsurprising. Covid has not gone away. Now that organisations are reopening, leaders address an unprecedented challenge; how to rebuild their businesses in a manner that is safe and culturally adapted to reflect a new World.
Each global crisis intensifies the need for strong leadership competencies. HRM’s own talent assessment programme now centres on these, irrespective of role level. Leadership is at the core of everything we need; agility, communication, clarity, security and more. While the current instinct may be to double down on operational tasks, that is a mistake. Aside from health and safety considerations, what employees really want is their higher-level needs addressed.
1. Re-connect your team to the vision or create a new compelling ambition
Operational recovery as a purpose is short term. It creates initial buy-in but burns out quickly. Your employees want to know that what they do today, matters and fits with the organisation’s longer term objectives. If your team’s mission has changed as a consequence of the pandemic, redefine your mission, communicate it clearly and work carefully to create engagement.
2. Recognise and celebrate small wins
What we take for granted in good times are often key successes during a challenge. Small wins matter as they are achieved in more difficult circumstances. They raise the bar on what your team believes is achievable. Hunt out daily progress, even small moments of recognition ignite an employee’s emotions and engagement.
3. Be honest about challenges and failures
Create a two-way communication forum and make it safe for employees to share their concerns and perspectives. Be clear about the challenges, talk about what has and has not worked and why. Encourage contribution. Don’t let ill feelings or worries fester, it can turn small personal concerns into large team disputes.
4. Keep what works and worked well
Not everything you did before the pandemic was perfect or is still fit for purpose. But much of what, and how, you achieved is still very important. If your team works or worked remotely, reflect on what kept people engaged and what efficiencies you achieved. Work with your team to find the best blend of “before” and “during” phase activities to create the right “beyond” plan.
5. Be very clear to them that you care
The pandemic has surfaced a greater sense of global humanity. We see this through the growth in movements that are driving social change and also in the rising level of challenge to populism. Your employees may have different personal priorities now too. Their experiences in, and continued navigation through, this pandemic has created anxiety and altered expectations. Bridge these new needs with the needs of your business, through a clear focus on employee wellbeing, transparency in all matters and alignment with all public health directives.
Operational recovery is a priority for nearly all organisations. These five steps are not just the right way for leaders to behave, they are key to a faster performance recovery. How employers behave today, will shape how they are viewed for years to come.