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A Leader’s Bridge; The 3 Keys for Your People Returning to the Office!

Through the midst of rebounding after an organizational crisis… in this case, a global pandemic… organizations experience massive change; change in processes, products, culture, and people! Through this process, there are two big issues of concern. One issue I hear leaders and employees express with great anxiety is returning to work after so much time off or so much time working remotely… how do I and we go back? Do I want to go back? How do we care for and keep our people happy when they get back? What’s it going to be like and feel like? These are all relevant questions and must be respected to move forward! The second issue is… there were so many leaders and employees hired during the transition that the company has never physically shaken hands with or really gotten to know due to remote work or simply being too busy attempting to stay afloat. Now, everyone is supposed to return to the office and play nice in the same sandbox together?

It’s important to recognize not every company bounces back after crisis and being mindful to take a breath and be grateful for the organizational stress you get to have! Secondly, is respecting the issue: some leaders and employees can’t wait to get back to work and out of their homes. While most have settled in to working in a flexible manner, wearing their Zoom Outfits (you know what I mean), being in their space, not being micro-managed, and not having the 20th walk-by of the day stroll into their office and turn a 2-minute conversation to an hour-long development. Let’s respect the positives crisis can allow, however now it’s time to go back and march forward… So, what to do?

 

Reveal!

Reveal is the R. from my H.U.R.T. leadership and will never get old when it comes to enhancing our leadership and the leadership of our people! As a leader, you understand and empathize that organizational crisis has hurt the company, leaders, employees, and their families… and the plan and changes that are necessary to best move forward may be as uncomfortable. Reveal you understand the issue, accept the issue, have a plan to address the issue, and have expectations to address and maintain standards moving forward.

It may sound something like, “Thank You everyone for being here! This has been a trying time for all of us; as people and as professionals. It’s brought a lot of challenges and I sure some positives we didn’t expect. Perhaps you found you’d like being at home, enjoyed your Zoom Wear (that gets some chuckles!), being with your kids, etc…I know I did! It’s a new day and the future is here! Moving forward, our plan is ______________________. I’m sure this sounds great for some and like a major adjustment for others. We want to keep great people like you and our expectation and standards are to move forward with positivity, encouragement, and to be the best organization overall for our customers and our people. We understand this new way may not be for everyone and that would be unfortunate; the train is leaving the station and we want people that are ready and willing. I also understand that anything new can be stressful and frustrating. When that’s the case, please discuss it with someone that can actually help; whether that’s me or your leaders, and please accompany a problem with a suggested solution. We want to know and will listen… perhaps we go with the idea, collaborate to fine-tune it, or we don’t go with the idea for various reasons and will challenge you to fit your idea into the bigger picture of where the organization is going.

This statement can be made in a group, to your team, or individually. It explains the transition, the positives, and the pending stressors… as well as what you, the organization, and your people can do about it. The R. also sets a great preface statement to later address with a team, leader, or employee that is habitually being a Negative Nick or Nancy!

 

Flexibility

This is a short yet powerful concept! After extraordinary chaos experienced by your organization and your people… it makes sense to have a plan; it also makes sense to allow for flexibility within the plan. Remember, marry the vision, but not the path!

Through the pandemic or organizational chaos; you may have found a specific person or team was more productive working remotely. An employee who was habitually late to work or didn’t meet deadlines is now more effective and producing more. Parents with younger children got to spend time with their children AND get their job done AND save on childcare AND would like to keep that going for half the week. The things you were hard-and-fast on pre-crisis as a leader and organization have proven to merely be one way of doing things… how can flexibility on an individual basis, team basis, and organizationally be adopted to propel the company to elite status?

 

A Leader’s 1-on-1 Meetings!

I’m honored to present my Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings around the world and one of my favorite concepts to teach and role-play is the Leader’s 1-on-1 Meeting. It’s the number one canceled and rescheduled meeting across all organizations due to being “Busy”; making their people feel small and undervalued. In our new world of increased remote work; the biggest positive is more face-to-face communication: head up, eyes, up, smiling, greeting, and engaging. As leaders and employees return to work; I really hope we don’t lose that and return as drones walking around the office with heads down buried in phones or running the world and their teams via email behind closed office doors. Let’s stay human-to-human; also being mindful a job needs to get done. How do you do that?

Schedule monthly 1-on-1’s with your people and don’t bump them or cancel them. This meeting will provide an opportunity for new leaders to meet new employees… as some of the leaders were new hires during CHANGE and vice versa. The meeting doesn’t have to last long and has its own format I’ve shared in other articles and leadership videos:

  1. What’s your P.O.M…. Positive of the Month? As a leader, you go first! Feel free to share something professional and personal. This allows for an example of how to respond and an option for them to share either professional or personal
  2. What would you like to get out of our meeting today?
  3. Mesh Goals – What do you want to get out of our meeting today?
  4. Develop a plan of action to be followed up in the next 1-on-1
  5. What was your biggest takeaway from our meeting today?

Setting the expectation and following through with 1-on-1’s can soothe the transition of change for you and your team as it works to enhance communication, bonding, planning, and leadership. Enjoy the journey of the return!

 

“Marry the vision, not the path!”   – Andre Young

 

Written by: Andre Young

Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com

 

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