This year is a year for leaders to shine. You can shine, too.
The year 2020 is a year many may want to forget. I believe 2020 is a year for leaders to shine. It’s a year where leaders have even more opportunity to grow their leadership abilities. A year where leaders can show their teams what they’re really made of. A year for leaders to develop resilience, determination, and discipline like they’ve never known before.
As organizations are moving through the various stages of change, I’ve begun sharing the ABC method with them. It’s simple. It’s effective. And it’s something that can be used at any time.
A = Accountability
I was talking with a middle manager of a large company recently who told me his organization is allowing employees to work from home for the remainder of the year and perhaps beyond that. His tone of voice told me this wasn’t a decision he’d have chosen. He went on to say when his team members are working remotely, he doesn’t know what they’re doing and how productive they are.
When I heard his opinion, I couldn’t help but think of Gallup’s findings that report 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Disengagement is at 85% in the workplace, and he wanted them there so he could see what they’re doing.
There’s a better way, and it’s called accountability.
- How do your team members know what’s expected of them regardless of where they do their work?
- Do they understand how their results impact the rest of the team and organization as a whole?
- Are you setting clear expectations right at the start, providing the training and/or resources needed, and sharing regular, constructive feedback along the way?
- Do they know your expectations for how to make you aware a task or project is complete or delayed?
When the leader is committed to holding team members accountable and has the systems and expectations in place to do so, where the team members do their work becomes a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.
B = Be flexible
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s how to move the flexibility factor up a few notches. At the beginning of this year, most leaders weren’t prepared for the major changes in how the work was going to be accomplished just a few months later.
My observation has been that some organizations moved at lightning speed to get their teams working remotely even when they had no past experience doing so. Equipment was moved; technology was accessible; and team members knew what was happening every step of the way. They were flexible and quickly adjusted and managed the daily changes being announced.
Leaders in these organizations have also allowed flexible schedules when possible. I’ve seen teams implementing:
- Work when you can. Just get your eight hours in.
- Be available and online working from 10:00-2:00 (or some time frame) and work your remaining four hours when you can.
- Work additional hours one day to make up for fewer hours another.
All businesses can’t allow for this type of flexibility, but those that can are showing their teams that they trust them; they respect them; and they appreciate them.
C = Communicate transparently
I believe that MAMs happen in most, if not all, workplaces. A MAM is the acronym I use for a meeting after the meeting, and it happens when employees feel there’s a hidden agenda. The leader of a meeting, for example, shares a new process, decision, or plan and then asks if there are any questions. No questions are asked, and people leave the meeting. Then the MAMs begin.
These meetings after the meeting can happen in person in the office or in writing by email, text, or instant messaging. Leaders tell me they happen because some people on the team like to stir the pot. If team members truly believed all workplace communication was transparent, though, would they even initiate the MAM?
A friend of mine is the executive director of a local nonprofit organization. I spoke with her recently, and she shared how she and her team are managing the many changes they’ve experienced as a result of COVID-19.
As she wrapped up her description, all I could say was, “Wow!” She shared information about furloughs that will happen throughout the year; team members who were let go; plans that were completely eliminated—all due to budget cuts. I asked her how she learned to be so transparent with her team, and she told me she learned what NOT to do from her prior employer.
She went on to explain that she and her former colleagues felt they were left in the dark more often than not at that prior workplace. When she was in the midst of wondering what was happening behind closed doors, she made a commitment to always share so much with any future team they’d never wonder what was happening, and MAMs would be non-existent.
It’s true that 2020 has been a year for the books, and we’re only halfway through. Leaders are in a make-it-or-break-it situation, and those who embrace the many changes experienced with a commitment to lead even more effectively are the ones others will be eager to follow.