The last year saw people connect on a different level. During several lockdowns, we have been invited into each others’ homes and lives. We really meant it when we asked the question: “How are you?”
Leaders across the working world embraced the humanity of the situation and communicated with their people in deeply caring, compassionate and inspirational ways, offering guidance, reassurance and clarity in the most uncertain of times. But how can we make sure that as we emerge from the pandemic we don’t lose that magic?
In this session from Flexpo Business last year, our expert panelists shared their experiences, insights and thought leadership as they discussed what they’ve learned about leadership through the experience of COVID-19 which included:
- Everything can be challenged- there is nothing that you can’t look at and think ‘Can we do this differently and better?’
- Never under-estimate the people that you employ- you never know what they are capable of when put into tough situations
- A heightened understanding and recognition of employees as people. Managers have been exposed to the different and diverse circumstances and ways in which the people on their teams live their lives; suddenly we’ve been in peoples houses and seen their families, their workspaces, their pets. As a result, we’re more connected to our teams through seeing their personal lives and we’re more aware of the pressures that different individuals face.
- Personality and personal preference drives management decisions when it comes to flexible working. Some managers have more extroverted personalities and love having people around them (and are therefore more inclined to push for a return to the office.)
- Flexible working is good as long as it’s flexible- the moment you start to introduce rigid guidelines, you lose the benefits. Equity doesn’t mean offering the same thing to everyone
- The stumbling block and tension for many businesses will always be that ‘we can’t offer this as we can’t offer this to everyone and take the same approach.’ Some roles just cannot be done from home
- Trust = outputs: ‘You go wherever you need to go and organise yourself in a way that you can deliver the outputs.’
- If you don’t trust your teams then you’ve either got a problem or you’re not employing the right people.
- You need to be transparent about what the expectations of everyone are- output as opposed to geographical location and hours on the clock.
- Leaders have a huge role to play in ensuring that divisions aren’t created between people who work differently. How to you maintain a cohesive culture when people are working in blended ways?
- As a business, you need to define why you want to work flexibly and what are the benefits are. It’s imperative that everyone understands WHY. For example: ‘We want our organisation to be the best-performing that it can be. This must be fuelled by our employees and we therefore need to create a working culture in which people can bring their best selves to work.’
- Empower teams- give them the power to design an approach that works for them. Create micro-cultures as it will look different for every team- they know what will work best, how can they deliver, what’s possible for them as our team and what they all need to do to make this work. People then come along with you on the journey.
- Create roles around individuals. Make it possible for everyone to work flexibility- this changes how people view their organisation
- Flexible working and working from home is not ‘remote’ working. We now have such a richer sense of the individual because we’ve taken on more personal connections this year (more so than if you had sat around a board room together.)