"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way."
- John C. Maxwell
Now that your workforce is remote, your business has gone completely digital, and there are no signs of returning to “normal” any time soon, connecting with your employees is more critical than ever for making better leadership decisions.
If you’re like most of the leaders we’ve had conversations with in the last 90 days, you’ve probably asked yourself questions like:
- Where is the future of our work—and business—headed?
- What can be done better or differently to help our team succeed?
- How can our team feel more connected to each other, their work, and the company?
- What obstacles will we be facing in the near future?
- How can I as a leader improve my own approach to better support and lead my team and organization overall?
Effective leaders must be attune to the vulnerabilities, threats, and risks plaguing their business—which is why questions like these are crucial. Without that level of awareness, it’s impossible to take the right action.
With that in mind, what are you doing to build your leadership awareness?
In times of significant pressure, our biases run high and we’re more prone to blind spots—which often manifest in reacting too late, responding inappropriately, or outright failing to recognize issues big and small.
As a leader, one of the most common blind spots occurs when you feel stressed, isolated, or solely responsible for the results of your team’s efforts. Because of it, you may feel like you have no support to lean on—without realizing there’s an incredible resource at your fingertips: your employees.
This is the exact situation our leadership team ran into back in April, when we realized we were simply reacting to the issues brought about by COVID-19 instead of responding. To turn the former problem on its head, we took a step back, asked our team important questions, listened to their experiences and feedback, and then took action.
We did all of this by designing and deploying a Remote Work Survey (we've since updated to include questions around well-being and rename as the Working Well Survey). The feedback we gained was so insightful that we made the decision to help our clients and community launch the same survey with their internal teams.
After collecting data from 17 companies and more than 5,000 employees, it’s safe to say the results have been undeniable. Through it, we’ve discovered that:
- 95% of employees worry, on some level, about the impact this pandemic will have on their organization
- 57% reported they had never worked remotely prior to this pandemic
- 44% shared that their connections with colleagues had decreased
- 17% said their connection with their manager has decreased since working from home
- 76% expressed their confidence in their leadership team to lead the organization forward successfully during this pandemic
From this information, we, along with others who implemented the Remote Work Survey, were able to make pivots in our own business and culture to better serve and support our team.
Here are a few of the things we did:
- To improve team-wide connection, we start and end every week with a team meeting via video chat. This gives us all a chance to say hello, see faces, and hear voices as we talk about our work, current events, and even coping mechanisms.
- To accommodate employees with children, we implemented better boundaries for our work days including half-day Fridays, longer and more frequent breaks during all-hands meetings, and we eliminated early morning meetings (unless critical). We’ve also given our team full reign over their daily schedule.
- To address overall health and wellness, we hired experts to host virtual meditations, yoga, and the like to help our team better handle stress and learn new or better practices for self-care.
- We held space for “cuss and fuss” sessions during the beginning of the pandemic for people to genuinely speak their minds and vent any frustrations.
- We mailed our team masks, hand sanitizer, and other gifts to show them how much we appreciate their effort, patience, flexibility, and input.
- We sourced experts in productivity and high performance to help employees adjust and succeed in their new home-working environment.
- We made an effort to have the Executive team touch base with everyone at least once a quarter to see how everyone is feeling.
With remote work undoubtedly being the new standard for most companies through at least the remainder of 2020—and for some, like Google, Microsoft, and Twitter even longer—we’ll all be navigating this terrain with a beginner’s mindset. After all, every person, team, and business is different.
So, to make it easier on you, address your team’s needs specifically, and accelerate your efforts to plan for the future, we want to offer to help you launch the Remote Work Survey in your organization for free. It’s one of the best ways to connect with the heart of your workforce so you can make better, more informed decisions for everyone involved.