Sales Geek's Director of Professional Development MIKE ODE looks at the emotional legacy of Covid in the workplace and how to navigate a changed environment
‘Unprecedented Times’, ‘Turbulent Times’, ‘Difficult Times’ – Whatever your description of the past few months, it’s most certainly been a strange old time. In saying that, I’ve actually quite enjoyed delivering my training sessions via Zoom in a shirt, shorts and my gorilla feet slippers. I’ve also enjoyed eating rubbish at random times of the day. Silver lining and all that! Over the coming months though, we’ll start to return to some kind of normality. Admittedly, things will look a little different e.g. social distancing in the office, work bubbles and some continuing to work from home, but slowly we’ll get there. The ride won’t be an easy one and leaders and managers play a huge part in helping everyone to get back to a new way of working. The change to working from home happened so quickly for many businesses and this will inevitably lead to an emotional legacy as we start to return. Here’s a couple of things to consider if you’re a leader/manager:
We’re all getting used to ‘bubbles’ now. We have family bubbles and of course children have bubbles at school, so we’re familiar with the concept. It may lead to issues in work though. There’s the potential for these smaller groups to bond and work in silo. Your Department of 20 may be broken into 4 bubbles who, over time could start working alone and, in some cases, against each other. A recipe for disaster! It’s important as the manager to communicate as one group whenever possible. Involve everyone in decision making, share learning and experiences. There will come a time when bubbles aren’t necessary. When that time comes, you’ll want a team who’ll all work collaboratively, not one that’s dysfunctional and distant.
The highly unfortunate circumstance of COVID-19 is that some people have already lost their jobs, with probably many more to follow. Whilst lucky in one respect, the people that remain may well suffer from ‘survivor syndrome’. They may feel guilty at keeping their jobs. They may have had a great relationship with those that have left which can make them feel even worse. Leaders and managers can’t assume that those that have stayed will simply just ‘crack on with things’. After the initial feeling of relief that they’ve kept their job, there’s the potential for people to feel uncertain and anxious about the future as the months tick by - i.e. Am I next? It’s important for leaders/managers to communicate with everyone about the future as transparently and honestly as they possibly can and respect everyone’s emotions and feelings. This is a tough time after all. Our brains crave certainty. When we are certain we are happy. When we are uncertain, we are anxious, unsure, apprehensive. Try to provide as much certainty as possible to kerb negative feelings.
MIKE ODE is a Director of Sales Geek Professional Development part of the Sales Geek Group! He has trained some of the best leaders across the UK including our own Chief Geek. Part of a dynamic duo with his wife Sarah, Mike packs in creativity, energy and insight into all his training. He’s learning all the time of course, but there isn’t much he doesn’t know about professional development. Football on the other hand… As an Evertonian he doesn’t know that for toffee!
Geek Value: Make things fun
There’s so much written these days about leaders/managers who are seen as authentic. It’s certainly a style that we advocate and promote here at Sales Geek Professional Development.
But what is it and why is it important to display authenticity post COVID-19?
Some of the characteristics of an authentic leader/manager include:
- High levels of trust
- Empowers others
- Acknowledges mistakes
- Self-Aware and an awareness of others
- Challenges the status quo
- Displays vulnerability
During these tough times, employees will undoubtedly be feeling uneasy and vulnerable. Managers are no different. Displaying these feelings will help you to build a bond and a greater relationship with your team. As the person in charge, it’s important to display vulnerability. It’s fine to admit that you’re worried, scared, uneasy about the new way of working. This isn’t a weakness; it shows that you’re human. You will make mistakes when adapting to a new way of managing. It’s fine to admit these mistakes. Your team will respect you for it. The biggest one for me is self-awareness. Always put the brakes on, take a step back from time to time and reflect on how you’re managing your team, your behaviour, your attitude, the way you’re communicating, your moods etc. If you feel you need to tweak a few behaviours, then do so but don’t bury your head in the sand.
Take care & stay safe!