Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, companies across the country have been working to shift gears and adapt to a new way of business. For those fortunate enough to maintain steady work, the biggest challenge by far has been accommodating the new work-from-home lifestyle required to stay safe.
Throughout this shift, managers and leaders have been attempting to translate their in-person skills to a technology-based scenario. For many, this has proven to be complicated. Adding a “human” component to a distanced, isolated circumstance can be challenging, leading many to wonder if they’re doing enough to show their team members they’re valued and appreciated.
It can be done though. With a bit of forethought, patience, and practice, managers and employers can learn how to lead with compassion and empathy, all while keeping their employees motivated — even if it’s through a screen. The following guide outlines some useful tips to start implementing into your day-to-day to help boost morale and keep spirits high while still operating under stay-at-home orders.
3 Ways to Lead With Compassion During the COVID-19 Pandemic
1. Be Flexible With PTO and Adjusted Schedules
During normal business operations, it’s expected that employees provide ample notice whenever they need to take a day off or duck out of work a few hours early. If they don’t, it might come across as haphazard or unreliable. However, it’s important for leaders to recognize that life is very different right now, and maintaining a normal 9 to 5 schedule might not be feasible every day. This is especially true for those who are also serving double-duty as caretakers of children or elderly individuals.
Although it might not be ideal, try to be as flexible with changes to the daily routine. If an employee has to sign off a few hours early or unexpectedly asks for the day off, be considerate of the stressors they’re undergoing and try to accommodate their needs when you can. This will provide your employees with the support and resources needed to stay well-charged and capable of getting their jobs done. Communicate in advance that while you prefer advance notice, you understand these are stressful times and it may not always be possible.
2. Maintain Regular Meetings
Team “stand-up” meetings are regular get-togethers, typically ranging between five to ten minutes, in which all members of the department share updates on projects, concerns, or obstacles they may be facing. During normal business operations, these meetings might seem a little counter-intuitive; rather than taking time out of the day for everyone to get together, why not walk down the hall and have a quick chat with the one or two people you need to speak with?
However, which the stay-at-home orders still going strong, it’s important to maintain a strong sense of connection, teamwork, and transparency. Stand-ups offer a quick opportunity for everyone to have a bit of social interaction, garner some insight into how projects are progressing, and tackle any issues that need addressing. These meetings will help establish a sense that you’re right there in the weeds with your employees, and you’re just as involved in their work as ever — regardless of where your desk may be situated.
3. Dig deeper in your one-on-ones
For some of your employees, adjusting to work-from-home life might prove challenging. For example, if they didn’t anticipate this type of change, they might not have invested in an adequate work space, making it difficult to work at the same level of productivity they did before. Make sure you keep space in your one-on-ones to give your team members an opportunity to address with you any personal issues they might be facing that could be hindering their capabilities. During these meetings, you’ll be able to provide your employees with your full attention, so they continue to feel supported and understood.
Take notes of what they express, and try to find ways to rectify any issues. For example, if one of your workers is struggling because they don’t have a second monitor at home, making it difficult for them to accomplish projects, talk to your supervisor about expensing a purchase so they can operate more efficiently. This kind of proactivity will show your employees that you’re processing what they’re going through and are taking actionable steps to make the transition as seamless as possible for them.
COVID-19 is still going strong, and there’s no telling when things will go back to normal. In the interim, practicing active listening, proactivity, and empathy are key to keeping your team members afloat. Listen to what they say, stay involved in their projects, and implement whatever changes are needed to support them during this time. If you do, you can rest assured you’ll all come out of the experience a stronger, more capable organization.