• Scott McInnes

90 | Staying Connected during Covid

Scott McInnes CEO of Inspiring Change Consultancy At the Office

So hands up - a bit of a cheat this week. Back in March (yep, nearly 11 months ago) I ran a free webinar for leaders on practical things they could do to maintain a connection with their people, most of whom were remote working.

And if that advice was important then (which it was!) it's 1,000 times more important now!

If you want to watch the actual webinar, you'll find it here - it's about 40mins. If you don't fancy listening to Scott's dulcet Scottish-ish tones for 40 mins, there's a summary of the key points below. :-)

With many under lockdown (for the third time in some cases) and with the added pressure of home-schooling, job losses, worries about parents and grand-parents, business leaders have to think differently about how they lead and communicate.

Yes, it’s still a bit of a crisis, but, handled well, it could easily be turned into an opportunity – the opportunity to test (albeit under duress) home working for large swathes of the working population. It's highly likely that we;re going to be turning to hybrid models of working so it's important to practice what that looks like from now!

Below, I’ve summarised the seven things that I said leaders needed to do in order to motivate, engage and lead their people through these times of change.

1. Acknowledgement – this is a big change In the mid-eighties, William Bridges did some really important work in the area of change and transition. In it he talked about New Beginnings, about giving people hope for the future.

But the first of his three stages of change was endings – helping people to let go of what they had before. He said that, until you can do that, it’s almost impossible to get them to change.

So, acknowledging the change and what people are going through is really important.

What can you do?

  • Before you take on your colleagues, ask yourself how YOU are

  • Reaffirm things that haven’t changed

  • Balance reality with hope

  • Create opportunities for people to say how they’re feeling – reveals ways you can perhaps work with them most effectively, both 1-1 and in a group

2. Be consistent With 24x7 news coverage and social media going at 500miles and hour, it’s easy to get lost in misinformation. It’s a leader’s role to be a guiding light in the storm and, in a work setting, to be fully aligned with communications coming from trusted sources (generally your internal comms team or, in smaller companies, your exec accountable for communications)

What can you do?

  • Check your sources and only use centrally issued communications

  • Give information to your teams in line with other leaders, managers or external releases - timing is often key

  • Don’t overwhelm your people - provide information in bite-size chunks that they can easily process

  • Don’t be dragged into rumour-mongering – you need to be the ‘single source of truth’ for your people

3. Translate and contextualise messages Company-wide messages are typically pretty generic – they have to be. A key part of a leader’s role is to translate those messages for your team.

What can you do?

  • Think about what a company announcement or new update means specifically for your team

  • What impact does it have on you and the work you do?

  • What do you need the team to start, stop or continue doing as a result? Maybe nothing?

  • Use words that are authentic and easily understood in the context of your team

4. Clearly set expectations This is a fast-moving situation that none of us have faced before. More than ever, we need our teams to stay productive – the long-term viability of many businesses depends on it. And that means ensuring everyone is pulling in the same direction but also recognising that you need to let your people find their own way to get the job done.