Managing a team right under your nose was difficult, but now that everybody has been working from their own homes, it must have gotten even more so. Since mid-march people have been doing their best to keep things running smoothly, even though there was no access to their professional work space. With limited resources and a lot of confusion, things have seemed to fall into a routine even amidst the quarantine. But the overall motivation and speed that there was present in the beginning is starting to fail. With each new extension of the lockdown, there’s anxiety and lethargy going about, that is affecting everyone on the team. Its important that their morale remains boosted to continue being productive. There are simple and effective ways to keep your employees happy and motivated through this situation.
It is all over the news that the economy is being affected to a great extent by the COVID19 Pandemic and the subsequent Lockdown. There is anxiety in the team, as to what their situation is, and the future holds for the company and themselves. If your business is suffering, there is no point in hiding it from the employees. Keep them updated about the status of the operations. Make them aware of the financial plans and contingencies you have prepared to battle the weakening economy. This will avoid any conflicts and misunderstandings that will lead them to draw their own conclusions. Be open to suggestions from everyone on the team, as an outsider’s view on the impending situation may help create better solutions. This is only possible through open and transparent discussion. Communicate with the whole team and stress that you are doing everything you can from your side to support and help them.
In the traditional workspace, the entire team gets plenty of social interaction, taking breaks together. This personal contact is important to building trusting professional relationships that helps them work better. Communicating everything over work calls and mails may not set the right tone of conversation. The lack of engagement leads to impersonal conversations and monotonous interactions that are purely about work. Help them feel that they are all included and that you care about them all. Engage them in team building activities through video calls and tasks. The quality time they spend with the rest of the team will instil the sense of family and build better bonds. Ask them to converse about their life at home, how each of them are coping with the lockdown, whether anybody requires help, etc… This will open up to a safe space and support system that keeps them motivated even through personal troubles.
Encourage creativity at Work
Working on their own without any help from others makes a person weary and tired. The constant distractions from others at home can also lead to lesser productivity. Therefore this is the perfect time to get creative and allow each individual’s views and implementations to come out. Those ideas that were too risky to try out in the regular market, can now be tried and tested. This will help you gauge their interests and see what each team member is strong in. Give them a free rein without stepping into much, and you will see that they will work wonders. Appreciate and reward freely wherever and whenever possible and do it with other members of the team present. This will give the employees a chance to see that they are actually valued by the management and motivate them to come up with novel ideas to execute. Actual rewards that are material, will keep them in good moods and strive to do things for the betterment of the organisation.
The earlier hectic work schedules could have meant that you cannot afford to part with the team members for even a few days or hours. They were completely slogging at their usual work. Now is the ideal time to help them upscale with training and workshops that will help them adapt to the rapidly volatile market scenarios. This can include both emotional and creative training in addition to technical which makes them valued assets that are level headed in any situation. You will be surprised at how this little investment can reap you great rewards in the future. The employees will also be grateful and happy that there is time, money and efforts, being directed towards their personal and professional development, since most of them cannot afford such skill training on their own. The company should be a family that takes care of its own, no matter what happens in the outside world.
Make empathy a practice
This situation is something that we have not faced in our entire lives so far. Each of us is struggling to understand and come to terms with what has to be done. Therefore empathise with the personal situations of each team member. Be kind and flexible, as each of them would have their own family emergencies and distractions. They may not be able to devote time and concentration as they did in the office. Avoid asking explanations and calling them out in front of other team members. They are doing the best they can with what resources are available to them. Personal tragedies are also not out of the question and they must be dealt with utmost sensitivity and compassion. If somebody’s performance is jeopardising the everyday operations, communicate it to them personally and figure out why it is so. Encourage them that you are willing to support them with what you can, to help them perform better. Threats and rudeness will only discourage them further and demotivate them. Empathy will make them feel better and sure of themselves leading to better productivity.
There is no telling when things will get back to normal, but the only way to keep things running is through happy employees who feel safe and secure in their work. Implement the above practices and you will feel the overall morale being lifted and work goes on smoothly as before.