In light of COVID-19, we have established a “new normal” when it comes to what our workplaces look like. Three in four workers in our country are currently working from home rather than their traditional office space. While some things will return to what we had before, make no mistake that this pandemic will leave its mark for years to come as it relates to our working population. This change will test the culture your organization aspires to build.
During this time of uncertainty and extreme change, companies need a plan to ensure they continue to create a thriving work experience that is valuable to employees. At CoCulture, we want to equip each leader to make the best decision for their respective organizations, ultimately leading to a unique, strong, and incredible workplace culture. We want to share with you ways to implement these strategies that can support your efforts in creating an amazing culture within your company and team that will continue beyond this time of crisis.
Rooting Actions in Purpose, Vision, and Values
During a time of short-term tragedy, organizations will be tested on their principles. When the bottom line is, well - on the line - the best leaders can lean into their purpose to strengthen that shared purpose and community across the organization. Just like individuals, organizations will show their “true colors” during difficult times. Now, more so than ever, is the time for your company to assess who you really are and what unique value you bring to the world.
Being rooted in purpose, you can look through the “values lens” and see your vision with clarity. Companies that have a strong sense of vision and values can handle change management with stability, compassion, trust, and hope. Gallup has globally researched these key elements as the four universal needs of the followers to your mission. By having this foundation in looking at decisions that are facing your clients, coworkers, and community, your team will plant seeds that yield incredible fruits. Use this time to reimagine, innovate, and build core competencies so your organization can thrive down the road. In all your decisions, ask yourself, “Does this fit and exemplify our values?”
During this time, there are a lot of stories and misinformation being spread around. It’s imperative to establish a narrative and back-and-forth clear communication with your teams. While it seems that information and change happens almost by the hour, the same important messages need to continue throughout this season. Focusing on Gallup’s four universal needs in each communication has shown to be crucial in keeping your culture thriving. Let’s take a quick look at each universal need so that you know what to look for and how to apply these principles to every email, speech, and large-scale communication:
Stability – Having a clear-cut plan and showing the WHY behind that plan brings a sense of control and normalcy amongst a sea of uncertain waves. By focusing on the plan, having a cadence of communication with that plan (almost overcommunicating it!), equipping individuals to do their job (which may have changed during all of this), and caring about their wellbeing are all things that give your employees a sense of stability. This reduces stress, anxiety, and aids in your organizations change management.
Compassion – There has been some extremes on this scale of compassion that we’ve heard of scaling from using “non-essential” in verbiage ultimately leaving individuals feeling they are not known or needed within the organization (and themselves as people), to not even acknowledging the fear and uncertainty that comes with these times, avoiding the name it to tame it mentality. We already have seen the affects of ignoring mental health issues and by not talking with our clients, coworkers, and community we will do more harm than good. We NEED each other during times like this and compassion will be crucial in understanding others and what they need. Be sure to bring up ideas and concerns people have talked about and address them head-on. By doing this, you let them know you are listening, care, and even that their feelings/ideas are validated. Couple that with this being the most “in-the-field” training you could ever get with Emotional Intelligence, this is a great time to demonstrate compassion!
Trust – You’ve probably noticed by now that these are all actions we’ve discussed in previous CoCulture posts. Nowadays though, people will need to be laser focused on building trust and ensuring that their actions match their words. Stephen Covey in the book Speed of Trust talks about how you can build trust a multitude of ways. We highly recommend giving this book a read and learning more about what you can do as a leader, friend, coworker, and person to improve your trust. At the most basic level, in communications ensure you always follow through with what you say and embody. As we talked about before, be sure to act upon your values! What might come as a surprise is that in the book it’s mentioned that one of the fastest ways to gain trust is to extend it to others. A great way to show this is by stating you are proud of how they’re overcoming obstacles while working from home.
Hope – We left this one for last, as we believe this is one of the most critical elements missing not just in organizational communications, but during this season as a whole. With massive uncertainty lingering around every corner, it is imperative that we end each communication with a message of hope. A message of a better tomorrow. Sometimes that will be hard, as delivering messages with furlough, layoffs, and business closings can leave us void of hope. As leaders it is our duty to bring hope to the foreground out of the mud and muck, and to show our clients, coworkers, and community that even in the darkest of times there is always hope.
We’re in this together
Finally, we want to encourage you to continuously learn and grow with grace. If we thought things were moving fast before, well, we just went to hyper speed. The world is figuring out how to deal with this crisis, and we are all in this together. Be sure to give yourself some self-compassion (by the way, a great topic to focus on with employees!) as well as grace to others as we all continue to build on efficiencies, innovations, and our new normal. Make no mistake, how you react now in these times of extreme challenges will echo for a generation. Be sure to position yourself alongside your team, so you can face this and come out of it stronger and more resilient than ever.
image credit to Hppy