The world of work has radically changed since March. Many leaders are changing how they manage their teams who now work at home instead of an office. Workers and leaders are juggling the stresses of the pandemic, virtual meeting rooms, and often, homeschooling. We may be getting a more well-rounded view of the lives of our colleagues, creating deeper, more authentic relationships, but this new way of working is also creating burnout as the boundaries blur, and work is conducted at all hours.
Leaders are looking for ways to keep teams engaged and Elizabeth Moran, Ph.D., the charismatic VP of Leadership and Team Solutions at ADP has answers. Founded in 1949, ADP is a global provider of human capital management solutions designed to create a better world of work for their clients. Currently, the organization serves more than 860,000 businesses of all types and sizes in 140 countries, providing solutions to recruit, pay, manage, and retain their workforce.
With ADP dedicated to helping people reach their full potential, Elizabeth and her team help ADP leaders build awareness of activities at which they excel and figure out how to manage those tasks that drain them, including leverging those team members around them who enjoy what they may consider a drain. Her superpower is creating powerful conversations where clients explore what matters to them, especially when they are dealing with new challenges. She helps them be curious and reflective, which is an essential attribute of compassionate leadership, leading to actions that move them forward.
Here are four tips she offers to help leaders work better with virtual teams right now:
1. Show empathy. Make time to understand what your team and clients are experiencing. Ask what they’re finding stressful right now. Also, what they’re doing to manage their stress, including what has worked in the past. This focuses people on what they can do (and have already done), not what’s out of their control.
2. Discover motivations. Help people do more of what they love, enabling them to show up as their best selves. Ask team members “What tasks give you energy and motivation?” Also, “What tasks are draining,” so you can help them better manage these. Lastly, share examples of strengths you see them bringing that are helping you and the team. Doing things that we love moves us (and our brains) from anxiety to feeling strong.
3. Create community. Elizabeth found that short check-in activities during virtual meetings creates the “informal” connection time that was lost when we left the office. Begin a meeting with a simple question like, “What’s one thing you’ve learned you can live without during this time?” Also, make it fun. For example, you can do a quick scavenger hunt. Give people a minute to find something in their work space that inspires them, then give them 30 seconds to show and tell.These can ease pressure and cultivate healthier relationships through the screens.
4. Tolerate discomfort. Many leaders are uncomfortable communicating when they don’t have all the answers. It’s not your job to have all the answers, but it is your job to help ask questions and to remain curious. Get clear about what you can and cannot control and don’t be afraid to acknowledge this with your team. Saying something like, “I know there is a lot of uncertainty right now, which makes things extra challenging. Let’s take 10 minutes and talk about what we do know, including what’s working.” Practice shared leadership, taking yourself off the hot seat and simply engaging. You may not have the answers, but you can help lead a good conversation.
I am inspired by Elizabeth’s advice that will lead to more authentic conversations during this crisis. I have already put her tips into action, and I know my meetings are more productive as a result.