People + Culture by Unleashed

29 Jun 2020

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Missed out on our people and culture sessions through our webinar series, or just want to recap the good stuff? Good news - we’ve collated team Unleashed’s top tips for leaders navigating these challenging times. Read on for plenty of tangible, actionable insight into leading through change, supporting your team’s wellbeing and maintaining company culture whilst working remotely. 

How to lead in a time of lots of change and remote working

  • Flex your style - it’s important to vary your approach to communication because individuals absorb information in different ways. Deploying a mix of methods will help ensure the message is more consistently received. Try videos with company updates; ‘Ask Me Anything’s, or even old school notes and cards to share positive feedback with your team. 
  • Take a design thinking approach to comms – gather feedback and iterate your approach to meet the needs of your team, but be careful not to radically change your approach to key communications channels too often as this can be destabilising - e.g. if you try a different format for your all hands/town hall meetings every week, your team will quickly become confused as to the core purpose of the meeting. 
  • Open up and be vulnerable - this time has brought challenges for us all and acknowledging  this will help build trust. 
  • Great communication goes both ways - practice active listening and use coaching with your team to empower them (check out models like GROW and OSCAR).  
  • Avoid zoom fatigue and meeting burnout - reevaluate all regular meetings that have stayed in the diary since moving towards more distributed work - are they really necessary? If so, restrict invites to only those who are vital and give a summary to any other interested, but non-essential parties.

The wellbeing of your team during COVID 19

  • Everyone response to the pandemic will be different - and stress levels will change all the time, so be sure to check in with your team regularly. It’s easier to gauge how someone is feeling in person and to observe changes in their behaviour. That ability has been removed now we’re working remotely so being direct is important. 
  • Don’t stop at ‘I’m fine’ - when asked how they are, people will instinctively say ‘I’m fine’ even when they’re not. Try asking them twice, or make it more specific with ‘how are you physically, mentally, and emotionally?’
  • Create a quiet, calm space for 1:1’s - just like you would in person. It’s harder to both focus and open up when either sides family or friends are pottering about in the background.
  • Stay in your lane - if you’re not a therapist or helping professional, the number one thing you can do when a member of your team is going through a tough time and chooses to open up to you about it is listen. Don’t interrupt or try offering solutions. Resist the urge to say ‘I understand’ - you don’t. 
  • Share resources- make sure information about wellbeing benefits and mental health resources are readily available to all. Signpost individuals to specific resources only if they’re open to extra support -and always make sure it feels like an option, not an obligation. 
  • We’re social animals - human beings need social connection, so try and encourage your team to embrace a low bar for jumping on a call rather than emailing, and make time for social chat before meetings. 
  • Don’t forget furloughed team members - but don’t force participation either - make it clear that they the option to join socials and ‘all staff’ updates if they choose and ensure managers are checking in at a frequency agreed with furloughed individuals. 
  • Mental health awareness is not just for Mental Health Awareness Week - creating true openness around mental health means taking consistent action and keeping the conversation going. 

How to maintain company culture and engagement during remote working

  • Engagement is a social contract between the company and team members. If the company does not deliver on what is expected, team members will become less engaged, and lack of engagement is strongly linked to high staff turnover.
  • Start simple - If you don’t know where to begin with codifying your culture and defining some core values, survey all staff for 5 words which they think describe your company culture. Consider how well this aligns with both leadership team’s views of the status quo and whether it differs from aspirations. 
  • Seek feedback constantly, act on it quickly - when ways of working are changing, gathering feedback through multiple channels becomes even more crucial - but failing to acknowledge and act on feedback once received will lead to disengagement. If you can’t action feedback, explain why openly. 
  • Keep nurturing talent - don’t forget that new and junior staff learn a lot about their role and the culture through shadowing others, so be deliberate about creating learning opportunities that would have happened organically when in an office environment. 
  • Ask your team what they need - they know best. Whether it’s equipment and tools needed to be productive or what socials they’d like to see - empower people to get what they need and self-organise. 

So there you have it! If you’d like to hear more from team Unleashed, you can find them over on LinkedIn or sign up for their newsletter here.

To sign up to upcoming webinars, visit our events page here.

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