As restrictions in society continue into 2021 and with more teams working from home with their managers at a distance - many people are feeling isolated and their productivity at work can suffer.
Leadership and management expert Caroline Esterson of Genius Learning, which has worked with brands including EE, EON, Boden and Fenwick, has come up with some tips that team leaders, supervisors and managers, can use at this time.
"Productivity and performance and therefore results are directly related to relationships. Now, more than ever with Covid captivity people feel isolated. Every manager holds the golden key in maintaining the productivity and well-being balance.
"More than ever before, we need managers at all levels to step up and be great role models. Many people feel incredibly vulnerable and some have suffered real trauma. Now is the time to show empathy and support. The current time demands a much more thoughtful, realistic approach to leadership."
Caroline advises considering the 3Rs of resilience, responsibility and responsiveness.
The World Health Organisation has described stress as the "global health epidemic of the 21st century". Many people who are constantly connected, now cite virtual overload as a key cause of stress and it is likely that this will be even greater now that the pandemic has forced teams to be more online than ever.
For people to build their resilience they need to feel safe and any leader must focus on their own resilience before being able to support others.
Here are some quick tips:
- Exercise mindfulness: perhaps sit before you start your day and let your mind wander and wonder for a few minutes.
- Acknowledge your feelings.
- Compartmentalise work: group your tasks into similar activities to reduce stress and ensure you are maximising your brain power by cataloguing your efforts.
- Go for a walk.
- Detach: When you are locked onto your screens it can be draining. Mental focus, clarity and energy cycles are usually in waves of 90 - 120 minutes so make sure you detach and take a short break.
- Reflect - it is easy to ricochet from one activity to the next without taking time to reflect and learn. Take time to consider what you are proud of, could you have tackled that task differently, what have you learned?
- Cultivate compassion as it increases positive emotions and increases co-operation and collaboration.
Results revolve around relationships. Where these are strong, where trust and compassion are present, people will move hell and high water to get the right things done.
Where they are absent, you not only get minimum requirements but in the background the chatter will have a detrimental impact on the team.
Take responsibility for:
- Clarity: in times of uncertainty, people need security. Help your team focus on the right things in the right way.
- Energy: if people feel lacklustre this will show in their performance. Really consider how you show up for your team and manage your own energy, lead the way, even if you do not feel like it.
- Create a balance between reality and optimism: it is no good being overly optimistic in times of crisis - people simply will not buy into it. As a leader you need to provide an honest assessment of the current situation and work with the team to create a picture of a more optimistic future.
- Language and focus: a leader has to show that they accept ownership, accountability and responsibility. Be accountable, seek and provide feedback. The alternative is a place where you blame, deny and make excuses. When you, as a manager step up and take responsibility for your behaviour this will lead your team implicitly to take responsibility themselves.
A good leader understands that the business environment is complex and at times ambiguous. They are able to react quickly to new challenges and circumstances. A responsive leader goes one step further. They anticipate challenges before they arise and taking proactive measures to face them. A responsive leader is curious and will understand that answers may come from the most unexpected places.
- Be clear about 'open' and 'closed' time - when are you readily available and when do you need your own focused time?
- Check in with people in team meetings. Notice any changes in behaviour from individuals and pick up the phone to follow up with anyone you think may have an issue.
- Keep your promises. When you make a commitment make sure you deliver on that promise.
- Value proactivity. When people offer ideas acknowledge them and provide feedback. This will encourage your team to contribute beyond day to day tasks.
- Celebrate! When our team members achieve their goals acknowledge this. A small act of recognition pays dividends in staff engagement.
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