As lockdown restrictions begin to ease and companies prepare to kickstart the return to work many will be looking to the leaders of the business for absolute clarity, transparency and understanding to be able to make this transition to the ‘new normal’ a success, but most importantly as safe as possible for everyone.
There has never been a more trying time for leadership than the past couple of months. The current pandemic has flipped our usual working practices upside down, catapulting businesses and their employees into the new norm of remote working. Now more than ever employees have needed clear communication, unparalleled levels of support and empathy from the leaders of the business, not just for the success of the team, but for the success of the business as well.
In a previous blog post we discussed the negative effects of bad management and the impact this can have upon team engagement and in turn business performance. So, how can you effectively lead your team through the unknown?
Your recent leadership style may have been working wonders in the office, however with home becoming the new working environment there are many challenges and external factors which could impact the productivity and motivation of your team. Both you and your colleagues have had to learn to adapt and become more agile to the new ways of working, juggling the balance of home life, family and work commitments all whilst under the same roof. With this said, as the easing of lockdown begins your leadership will face a whole set of fresh challenges.
The current climate has unfortunately seen a vast number of people being furloughed, some of whom may be in your team and so there is a chance of conflict amongst your team as some colleagues begin to return to work. Additionally, many companies are looking at increased flexibility for their employees and as a leader you need to consider that whilst your colleagues have been working from home in the current climate, there will be many who do not have an office to work from; some will have a great work-from-home set up in a quiet space with a nice view and a garden, however this is often not the reality for the majority. Finally, if your team is sales based or in front line customer service, your team moral and motivation may rely on the camaraderie of an office where they can share difficult calls and celebrate wins amongst their team members, so there are many considerations and complications to leading your team through the return to work.
Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory places significant focus upon assessing the skill and the will of the individual members of your team, while also evaluating your current circumstances and environment. So, before you decide which leadership style to adopt, you should first ask yourself the following questions:
What does your team look like? Consider their skill sets, confidence, capability and level of experience. Also be sure to take into consideration any changes in the needs of the business.
What does the current working environment look like? Consider each of your colleagues’ personal situations, their working from home challenges, the balance between work/home life, family commitments and their own personal motivations.
By answering these questions, you will begin to recognise and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your team and the unfamiliar changes and challenges brought about by these extraordinary and unfamiliar circumstances.
Once you have understood these, the next step is to look at which leadership style will be the most appropriate and effective for your team. Hersey and Blanchard focus upon four potential leadership styles: Directing; providing total direction, structure control and supervision, coaching; motivating, encouraging and enabling participation, supporting; guiding but being supportive to further build confidence and motivation and finally delegating; turning over responsibility.
The key is to remain agile, empathetic and understanding throughout these times; the more you can adapt and remain supportive to your colleagues, the more you can effectively lead them to success during these uncertain times.
At Avencia, we can help you navigate through these times. We hold regular workshops led by external coaches and are specifically designed for insurance professionals and HR. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Then give us a call today on +44 (0) 203 861 9360, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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