A business playbook for remaining people positive through COVID-19

Saleem Sonday  - 19 August 2020

In the fourth of 10 webinars in the Survive and thrive series, brought to you by the Allan Gray Umbrella Retirement Fund, we delve into strategies leaders can adopt to keep their people engaged, and feeling connected as the world of work evolves. We also look at ways to promote personal development. Watch the webinar recording of “A business playbook for remaining people positive through COVID-19” below.

Key takeouts

BetterWork co-founders Palesa Sibeko and Vincent Hofmann, and Allan Gray Leadership and Organisational Behaviour manager, Mpho Pule, discuss the ways leaders can support their people and foster cohesion through the changing world of work post-COVID-19. Here is a summary of the key takeouts.

Leaders can rally support in three ways

The pandemic has brought with it much uncertainty about the future, but it is how you, as a leader, react to the new challenges posed and provide support to your people, that will ultimately influence your teams’ levels of motivation and engagement. Pule suggests that what is most important for leaders to ask right now is how to keep work going, and how best to support their people through the crisis.

“All people want to know is that my manager sees me and listens to me…It’s the employees who received genuine help and support during this time who will remain long-term loyal to their employers even after this pandemic,” she says.

Pule’s top tips for keeping people engaged and making them feel supported are noted below:

  1. Prioritise frequent, candid, consistent and personal communication. Connect with your people in real time, as real people.
  2. Ask your employees what they need and then listen. Use their responses to tailor your response to the support required.
  3. Think growth and people development.

Recreate the human connection

Being forced to work from home has left many people feeling isolated, missing the social connectedness and sense of belonging that an office brings, and feeling generally disconnected from people, which takes its toll on one’s psyche.

Sibeko says it is critical for leaders to create a safe space for their employees that enables them to be vulnerable and share what they are going through. There is an opportunity for leaders to lead by example by opening up to teams around the state of the business, how things are done and by sharing insights about the decision-making processes.

Avoid micromanaging

There is no space for micromanaging in the new world of work, which is fundamentally based on trust. A person’s presence shouldn’t be determined by lots of Zoom or phone calls. Leaders can get more from their people by establishing trust and by coming to a mutual agreement on how work will operate into the future.

Regular check-ins are important, but the focus of these check-ins should be gauging where members of your team are, discussing challenges they may be facing and what the team, as a whole, can do to support each other.

Build back better

People have the power to influence the way that work works and to make it more meaningful. Hofmann says that the pandemic provides an opportunity to redesign the world of work to make it a better experience for people.

“Let’s rebuild something, a version of work that works for more people, not just for those that are privileged, and build back better interactions at work that allow people to reconcile their home life and their family life, and live a productive and creative life. I believe this is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do it.”

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