It is probably safe to say that the last nine months have not been even remotely what we all expected for 2020. With an influx of information, conversations, and questions, it can seem near impossible to lead your team well through the turbulence that this year has been.
At Pentaflex, we understand that a strong company comes from the people within that company that move us forward each and every day to a better tomorrow. While we are far from perfect, our team practices as many recommended management styles to help lead our team through the normal days, and the unpredictable days as well. Here are three ways to manage your team well through a time of uncertainty.
Manage Your Own Stress Levels
There is an old parable about a man who notices that his friend has a splinter in his eye. He yells out to the friend, “Do you know you have a splinter in your eye?” and he tries to help him get it out. However, the man was so focused on the splinter in his friend’s eye that he failed to notice the stick in his own eye. This made it impossible for him to help his friend with the splinter until he first dealt with the stick in his own eye.
Managing in any season of life, but particularly during an extremely difficult period of time like 2020, can end up feeling a lot like the parable.
Leaders can be so focused on checking in on their team, making sure everyone is on task, and helping others, that they let their own personal and professional lives fall to the wayside.
On one end, this can be seen as an extremely admirable trait for a leader to possess: they are so focused on the team they are managing that they are willing to sacrifice their own needs.
But, this is not sustainable. We are all human, and eventually, even the most amazing leader must address the stick in their own eye, or they will not be able to help their team member with the splinter.
So, leaders: this is your wakeup call. Take five minutes and check your own eye for a stick. Ask yourself these questions, and then act on the answers:
- Is there turbulence at home because you have been focusing too much on your job and have neglected a healthy work-life balance?
- What is one thing you can do to start to even out the scales again?
- Are you delegating to your team, or are you hoarding tasks that they are more than capable to accomplish?
- What is one item on your list that you can give to a team member today?
- Have you had any water today?
- This last one might seem so simple, but can have a huge impact. You have to take the time to give yourself a break. Drinking plenty of water, eating lunch, and looking away from your screen for just five minutes each hour are very little ways that you can impact your overall health for the better.
Increase Communication Opportunities
Communication for a lot of teams in 2020 has shifted dramatically. You might find yourself emailing, video chatting, texting, or talking on the phone more than you ever thought possible. You might also find yourself extremely worn out from the daily asks from your team: “When will we be going back to the office?” “Are we bringing any team members back soon?” and “What will next year look like?” are all questions that almost every company has been asking in the last few months.
While it is not possible (or recommended) to bring every single team member into each conversation about the future plans for the company, creating a regularly scheduled update for team members is a great way to create a consistent opportunity for communication.
Try implementing a weekly email, text, or 15 minute huddle with your team each week updating them on the state of the company. Even if there is nothing to report, it is better for them to hear from you regularly than to be left hanging. This regularly scheduled time will also hopefully decrease the chances of you being blindsided in the hallway or over the phone with one of those big questions that you don’t know how to answer on the spot.
Before the meeting, give team members an opportunity to send in any questions or thoughts they might have beforehand so that you can read them over and be prepared to speak directly to your team’s concerns.
If you’re worried about forgetting to send out that email every Friday, try writing the email on Wednesday or Thursday, and then just schedule in advance to go out to the team on Friday morning.
By giving the opportunity for conversation, you will build up trust with your team, increase communication, and create more opportunities for problem solving and innovation.
Balance Pessimism and Optimism
This last recommendation will look different for each leader and their respective personalities. If you’ve been in the game awhile, you have probably experienced each of these types of managers:
- The manager that only focuses on the positive opportunities and likes to keep things airy and cheerful OR
- The manager that only focuses on the negative consequences and likes to always point out flaws or issues in the system.
During any time, but particularly in a time of uncertainty, it is paramount that you learn to balance your pessimistic and optimistic thinking patterns. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be as realistic with expectations and relaying information as possible.
Human beings have the amazing ability to recognize a fraud from a mile away. So, if you try to spin information to be unrealistically optimistic, your team will know you are hiding something. On the other hand, if you only focus on the negative aspects of news, over time, your team will start to ignore the information, since they know they will only walk away from the conversation feeling defeated.
If you know you have the tendency to spin information either too positive or negative, try asking a fellow coworker to help you think through an announcement or team update before you share it with the team. Try to find a coworker who thinks opposite of you, so that you can help to balance each other out. For example, if you tend to lean to the glass half empty, try to find someone who regularly thinks the glass is half full.
At the end of the day, your goal should be to share information as straightforward as possible with your team. You can still be encouraging and uplifting, but be sure that it does not cloud the facts that you are trying to convey to your team.
While we are all experiencing an unprecedented time in 2020, we will get through this together if we learn to manage our stress, keep up communication, and keep a level head with ourselves and our team.
If you would like to speak more in-depth about the management styles practiced at Pentaflex that set our team up for success, contact us today.