COVID-19 and quarantine have disrupted your team, broken your typical lines of communication, emptied out your office, and there’s more to come! The holidays are already known for being a time of stress and extra burden. This year, we will all have to add social distancing on top of those normal worries and holiday chores. As a leader in your organization, you must recognize that your employees will have greater anxiety as the holidays arrive.
Here’s five specific tips on how to recognize and reward your employees in a way they will truly appreciate as the year 2020 comes to a close.
Tip Number ONE: Go beyond the screen.
The learning curve is over for Zoom and video conferencing because almost everyone understands how to use the technology now. They “get it”, which means it’s the norm. To successfully connect with your people and offer them authentic leadership that genuinely recognizes the value of each person you employ, you need to go beyond the screen. How you communicate with them during social distancing is just as important as what you are trying to say to them.
Examples of going beyond the screen include: you could organize a company drive-by at the home of an employee who is celebrating a birthday or who just finished an amazing month of production; you might visit the employee one-on-one and have a real – gasp! – face-to-face conversation; perhaps you can provide an outstanding teammate with the use of the company car for a week; you could mail everyone who works for you a hand-written note or a formal greeting card; and lastly, you might dress up each person’s workstation in the office and send polaroid photos of it decorated creatively, letting them know that their desk misses them and is ready for their return.
Tip Number TWO: Exude calm.
In the book, The Prepared Investor, one of the twenty tips for successfully navigating a serious crisis is to “remain calm and thoughtful to avoid emotional mistakes.” During this tough time, many of the employees in your organization might have had to tighten their financial belts. Perhaps they have even had to dip into their emergency savings account and make withdrawals. Either way, the holiday season in quarantine isn’t going to be the same jubilant experience that we’ve enjoyed in years past. With the pandemic looming overhead, our general sense of stress and worry is going to create personal and professional friction as people lose patience or express frustration.
Be a source of calm thoughtfulness for your team because it will help them to avoid emotional mistakes that occur when your workforce reacts without all the information or makes decisions while they are feeling angry or annoyed. As a leader, you cannot indulge your own desire to lash out no matter how trying the circumstances become. Instead, be a source of quiet, positive energy that attracts accomplishment rather than division. There’s a reason that, “You’ll get more bees with honey than vinegar,” is an old saying.
Tip Number THREE: Organize a company-approved watchlist.
People react to crisis and deal with calamity in different ways. Your staff might be staying up late binge-watching Netflix and this kind of coping isn’t helpful. Help guide them to a better path by offering a list of company-approved, professionally enhancing videos. There are documentaries on Netflix that relate to almost every profession. You can make a game of it or organize a watch party where everyone is watching the show together at the same time from each of their computers.
Tip Number FOUR: Throw a virtual “white elephant” gift party.
Honestly, who really keeps those silly presents? We don’t need the actual real-life gift – it can just as easily be a video or picture. Have everyone in the office draw a colleague’s name and then try to find them a funny video or picture of a product to give them as a gift. You can do this all over zoom, which accomplishes a number of things at once: 1) people save some money because they don’t have to buy an actual gift; 2) it gets people together in a quarantine-approved way to celebrate the end-of-year holidays; and 3) it sets an anti-materialism, conservationist tone that could be continued into 2021.
Tip Number FIVE: Call up your teammates.
Just call them up and say hi. Chat with them for five to ten minutes and don’t include anything about work. Just ask them, “How are you doing?” Tell them, “I’m not calling with an agenda, I just wanted to say hi. How is quarantine treating you and the family?” If they bring up work, ok, be helpful. But this is a personal call because you are an authentic leader who is personally interested in the people who support you and get your mission accomplished. As an extra challenge, try to learn something new about your employee while you’re on the call.
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