Last post I covered having your employees’ back and treating them like the high performers that they are.
Today, we’re concluding this series with two actions that are massively important for leading work in a post-COVID world that will forever have remote work in the mix.
3) Support employees with the flexibility they need
If you are an office professional, then you likely have been working remotely during the pandemic. As a result, we’ve all figured out the work that is best done at home, and the work that is best done in-person. As a leader, if you are clear about when you NEED your employees in the office and WHY, then you can really leave the schedule details up to them.
But what about those employees who didn’t perform well remotely? Do we honestly think mandating a specific number of days in the office will fix what’s broken? Instead, have a conversation:
- Was being home too much of a distraction?
- Is it difficult to stay on task when no one is watching?
- Do they need the social interaction of a corporate office to stay motivated and moving?
Or, perhaps it was a performance issue that existed before. You observed consistent seat time when in the office, and you didn’t take the time to focus in on the outcomes and address the issue that really had nothing to do with location. Yikes, that hurts (and I’m guilty too!)
We all have to be held accountable for our results, not just effort. Measuring performance by the number of hours someone spends at a desk or in meetings is like sitting on your peloton everyday but not breaking a sweat.
If your goal is better health, you gotta sweat, and if your goal is launching a project, you gotta work! If you create the expectation that results matter, then flexibility isn’t a perk, it’s just the way.
“I have a Dr. Appointment in the morning so I’ll be online at 10am tomorrow.” Hope it goes well!
“My kid has a concert this afternoon, I’ll send you the deck tonight.” Sounds good!
“I’m flying to DC on Friday, and planning to work half day on the plane. Go for it!
Agree on the core working hours, flex as needed, and your employees will focus on doing the work, instead of appearing to work.
4) Care about your employees and colleagues as a whole person
While we like to pretend we can fully separate our work and personal lives, we know that the opportunity to bring your whole self to work helps us thrive. For instance, my kids aren’t with me at work, but I’m still a mom. When the school calls to let me know my kiddo is sick, I know I can tell my colleagues and they’ll immediately say “go!” and “how can we help?”
Knowing they care about me and my family situation makes it easier for me to tell my family that I need to take a work trip or tend to a work emergency after hours. Care given is easily reciprocated, and it is a massive contributor to a positive work environment.
Caring about our employees and colleagues means caring about ALL the joys and ALL the sorrows that they are willing to share with you. If you can’t think of something unique about each of your team members that you can’t find on a resume, then you either aren’t listening OR you may not be sharing enough about you.
I received some excellent feedback early in my career as a project manager; you can’t just swoop into a new team, new project, or meeting and get straight to business every time. As much as I valued efficiency, I couldn’t build trust without relationship. And without trust, I couldn’t ask for anything outside of the status quo and expect to get it.
“The trust we have in people and in organizations comes, in part, from believing that they do care.”– Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust
So how do you do this?
Ask about weekends, ask about trips, ask about family, celebrate life events, give employees time and support during bereavement, fiercely protect their time away on vacation, and make sure you share some of you, too. This is more than a box to check, this is about really caring about who they are and how they are doing.
If you don’t care about the person doing the work, why would they care about the work they are doing for you?
As you set out to improve your work environment, know that each small step brings growth and positivity for you and your team. You don’t have to nail each action right away, but today is a great day to begin.