Valuable Lessons in an Extraordinary Year
Yup! 2020 was mostly a horrible year. However, if we focus on what we learned, both personally and professionally, we can take something valuable away from the wreckage.
In March, when Maryland, where most of our team is located, went into lockdown, we made a plan to support our clients.
We contacted clients with the message of “How can I help?” We took our training 100% online, we offered free consulting and developed relevant content to help clients keep their employees motivated and productive during the pandemic.
Over the next few months, we talked to clients about what was working for them and here is what we found. The companies that had the best results did the following:
- Put their people first: showed their employees they cared about them in multiple ways:
- Allowed flexible hours, especially for parents with kids being homeschooled
- Allowed people to have a baby in their lap or kids or pets in the background if needed during a call
- Provided equipment including PPE for on-site businesses or WIFI boosters and laptops for remote workers
- Checked in one-on-one to see if there was anything else employees needed to be successful
- Did “mental health” check-ins with direct reports and made sure employees knew about resources available (EAP services, etc.) to better cope with their circumstances.
- Communicated frequently and consistently: via one-on-one meetings, weekly team meetings, town halls, Q & As with the CEO, etc. The best leaders were transparent about the financial health of the company, what needed to happen to keep the company going strong, what employees could do to help and what to expect as the pandemic wore on.
- Learned to trust their employees to get the job done: Before the pandemic, many clients were reluctant to allow employees to work remotely, because they thought it would negatively affect productivity. When forced to go to remote work, most were pleasantly surprised with how productive their people were and with how much was getting accomplished. Employees cited the time saved and lack of stress from not having to commute, which allowed them more time to accomplish tasks, connect with team members and move projects forward, all while having more time with family.
- They invested in developing their people. The pandemic made many companies acutely aware of just how critical their people were to the success of their organization. Many clients saw the pandemic as an opportunity to invest in the professional development of their people and we trained hundreds of clients how to better manage and motivate their teams, as a result.
When you put people first, communicate frequently and consistently, trust your people and invest in them, the positives outcomes are:
- Loyal employees who are grateful to have stable jobs in a tough economy.
- Employees who appreciate the honesty and transparency of their leaders and who also understand the stress their leaders are under and want to do their part to help alleviate that stress.
- Team members who feel they had pulled together towards a common goal and felt a bond with those, not just on their team, but with everyone in the company. They felt a collective pride that they had made it through a challenging year and did it together.
Here’s to the New Year and to remembering the lessons we learned in 2020!
Author: Teri Kinsella