NAVIGATING A NEW & CHANGING FUTURE
“Flexibility, creativity and the ability to act in the face of uncertainty continue to be critical skills for managing your personal life, career and team members during the intense disruption caused by COVID-19,” explains best-selling author, career strategist and founder of Loving on Me, Katrina McGhee. “There are a lot of challenges ahead, but just as preparation has served individuals and organizations well at the start of this crisis, it will continue to be a critical tool for moving forward with reopening and reimagining a strong future.”
Leadership journey continues
Major disruption can actually serve as an effective prompt to reconsider short- and long-term goals for yourself and your team. As you participate in reopening efforts, focus on areas where you can exert the greatest influence and continue to explore new ways of working. Here are some first steps:
Acknowledge and appreciate contributions. People like to be recognized for being helpful and rising to the occasion. Step one is letting team members know early and often that you appreciate the Herculean efforts they’ve contributed under extraordinary circumstances. Even staying on task while working from home with myriad competing demands and distractions has not been easy.
Personally: reflect on how you’ve grown as a leader and built new skills that position you for the next step in your career and capture those examples in writing.
Acknowledge fear and embrace uncertainty. People may be fearful as they return to in-person work or even occasional real-world meetings. Talk openly about concerns and discuss solutions together. Seek input from colleagues who have been public-facing throughout the pandemic and have developed effective ways to cope with the stress.
Personally: embrace what psychologists call “liminality,” that experience of being in between a certain past and uncertain future. When used for introspection, these moments enable us to integrate recent learnings and may yield important self-revelations to guide future plans.
Keep learning. Shelter-in-place has changed the workday in ways that sometimes make it more feasible to take advantage of a wealth of online learning options. Consider asking team members to pursue skill development in a key area in preparation for return to the workplace and then share learnings in an online Lunch and Learn.
Personally: Make growth a top priority and consider developing new skills outside your comfort zone. The members-only portal, WFF Connect, is a great place to start.
Pull the team together. Working at a distance can decrease the cohesion that arises from shared space and common goals. Reinvigorate a sense of connection and teamwork with an enjoyable shared project, collaboration around a special thank you to frontline staff, or even a virtual party.
Personally: Evaluate your remote work performance and consider whether you want your future career responsibilities to feature a greater focus on team-based work or more independent projects.
Have each other’s backs. New protocols to allow the return to in-person work and restaurants to open will create a steep learning curve for everyone. Nurture an environment where mutual accountability is a positive norm and not punitive.
Personally: Lead by example by encouraging others to hold you accountable and accept input gracefully. Step up with strong written and oral communications to share knowledge everyone needs to work safely.
Reinvigorate your network. Remote work might have you feeling a step removed from your network. Forging new ties can feel all but impossible right now yet more important than ever as you seek creative input and consider new opportunities. Pay it forward by connecting with more junior colleagues in your organization and hosting an online mentoring session.
Personally: Continue to build your network via email, phone calls and video chats to connect with mentors who might have more flexibility in their schedules right now. Make your ‘ask’ specific and keep the conversation brief and focused on a particular area where you’re seeking guidance related to a work challenge or career advice.
As difficult as this time is, the more learning you can pull from it, the more it will serve as a growth experience. One way to do that is to pay close attention to aspects of the challenge that energize you, when you most excel and how you may want to lead differently moving forward or direct your growth and future contribution in new directions.