History is the ultimate reality TV show; it's getting a first-hand view of people's bad decisions, conflicts, trials, and successes. We can learn a lot from these stories. They teach us that ‘this time’ is never really different—at least not any more than Hallmark movies are different. Sure, you can insert new actors and actresses, change the location, etc. The story is typically the same, though.
In the same way, ‘this time’ for us is a slightly more evolved version of all the leaders and businesses who came before us. We’re susceptible to the same mistakes, so while your people are adapting to the temporary pandemic, there is danger of rapid declines in productivity, customer service, morale and more. The longer this goes on, the greater chance for decline. It’s your responsibility as a leader to drive team morale, maintain productivity and win while your team works from home.
Drive Team Morale
Be visible, vocal and add value. First, recognize that your team consists of all stakeholders: employees, clients/customers, investors and bankers. You want to drive morale among all stakeholder groups.
- Employees: Set the right meeting agendas, frequencies and facilitation.
- Clients/Customers: Build processes that clearly and frequently communicate your ability to serve, deliver and verify satisfaction.
- Investors: Build the right strategy for investor communication. You should, of course, follow any agreed to process, but my experience is that there is often more that can be done to create the right relationship.
- Bankers: Make sure you meet deadlines for any financial reporting (the earlier the better) and that reports are correct. How can your banker trust your information when earnings are restated quarter over quarter?
No matter whom you communicate with, don’t let geography deter you from being effective and transparent. Tools like face time, Zoom, Webex, Hangout, Houseparty and more allow you to have visual communication no matter where you reside. I recommend that you require employees turn on computer cameras when meeting.
As leader, strive for consistency in your demeanor and tone, and answer the 5Y questions – who, what, where, when, why. Answering the “why” questions will help you gain commitment and buy-in. You’ll find that driving team morale will help drive productivity. Even so, don’t overlook the accountability that comes naturally with a dashboard. It’s OK to be flexible in approach, but you must set outcome expectations and track them regularly.
Win While Your Team Works Remote from Home
Morale is a fickle thing when not nurtured and given constant attention. It’s essential in uncertain times as employees feel a loss of control. You must own and drive the morale of your team. Help them see a bigger picture with your vision of a positive outcome—a win for the team. See how to engage remote employees that work from home.
They likely feel powerless while wandering grocery stores with empty bread and toilet paper shelves, and you can be the light by helping them see beyond today. Give your team the ability to communicate and support one another often, to celebrate any victory and to feel success with things that are under their control – time, routine, focus, communication, support for others, etc.
You can further drive morale by focusing on your Core Purpose. I’ve seen a trend of active CEOs leveraging company purpose in helping their community. Giving back to your community is a helpful, outward focus that will boost morale. And make sure that you can incorporate it into your virtual team meeting.
Don’t let the mindset of "sounds good, but not now" get in the way of winning while working remotely. It’s tough for everyone, because we’re out of regular routine. Much like a detour from our usual drive home, we now have to think more about each turn that we take and whether it takes us to our final destination. It requires energy to think about each turn when routines are upended. When working remotely, it can feel like you’re all alone. As a leader, you need to muster more than your usual strength, optimism and courage to drive morale and maintain productivity in uncertain times.
This crisis will be temporary, but the habits and discipline you exercise now will have long lasting effect on you, your team and your clients. Drive team morale, maintain productivity and win while working remotely to leave a positive legacy. Your example will teach others to lead themselves, partners, families, and even customer relationships. Count on long-term changes to the way you operate your business, expect new technologies to emerge and trust that you’ll have new opportunities ahead.
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