The stress levels being experienced by managers are at an all-time high. Pre-pandemic, management was easier. All staff were at the office, physically present and we could monitor and control. This process was very tangible. Over the last 2 years, all of this has changed. Managers and business had to adapt. Leadership became intangible. The shift in how we worked was fundamental. It was confusing for managers. Some staff flourished, and productivity increased exponentially. Some staff could not motivate themselves and their productivity crashed and burned.
It’s been like this for 2 years and we have adjusted to the best of our ability. Now, we have a blended environment with some staff working from home and some at the office, so, why are management stress levels so high?
The increase of stress is mostly due to the lack of clarity on how to lead and manage the blended workforce. When there is a structure on how to lead, leaders feel more confident and assured. They have a “way to follow” that allows them to take the first step. That’s all they need, a first step and then their intuitive leadership steps up, they apply this to their unique environment and the team flourishes.
The first step is guided by a saying I was blessed with a few years ago:
More than ever, it is critical to communicate to the team what “RIGHT” looks like. The company purpose and vision must be focused on. The teams value and role in delivering on that purpose and vision must be made clear. When there is clarity, everyone knows what the “RIGHT” outcome is. Once you have clarified the purpose and vision, how do you, as a manager, handle the individuals in the team? They know what the team needs to deliver but what about each one of them? How do we support them to know what “RIGHT” is?
We, at RainTree, operate with the belief that everyone wants to add value and flourish. Human beings have an innate need to contribute and then receive recognition and validation. When our clients choose to believe that the staff have this positive intention, their ability to engage each team member as an individual increases.
Managing each staff member based on their unique strengths, what they must contribute and how they like to be recognised and validated is the art of modern management.
This four-step process is the first step to your blended team flourishing:
Get very clear on the company or division purpose and vision – this helps the team understand what they are working towards. More importantly, this helps them to understand WHY they are working every day.
Get incredibly clear about your team’s role and why the company needs them to deliver on the purpose and vision. When we engage with WHY we are needed, when staff understand that their employment is not an accident but a conscious choice, they become part of something bigger and more powerful than themselves. This gives them energy and drive. Why do you think it was important for the cleaner at NASA to understand that he/she was there keeping the environment dust free so that a man could go to the moon? One grain of dust and people’s lives would be in danger. The importance of the team and the job needs to become very real.
Manage each staff member individually. Get buy-in from your team on their individual performance expectations. Help them to know what “RIGHT” looks like, how it will be measured, how they will be validated and acknowledged for doing it RIGHT. Managing individually means that you must care about individual preferences. Some staff may need the spotlight, some may need individual or team recognition. Invest time in understanding and giving staff the clarity and acknowledgement that will allow them to flourish. This also means having appropriate consequences in place if they don’t deliver. This could mean returning to the office and being managed traditionally, having monitoring technology placed on their devices or even disciplinary action.
More than ever, management with clear boundaries, consequences and regular staff engagement is required. If someone is struggling, as their leader, you must notice this and have the courageous conversations. Not aggressive, threatening conversations but fact based, concerned and mature conversations. Ones where the employee understands what needs to change for “RIGHT” to be delivered. If they can’t deliver, actions need to be taken quickly. This is not the time for slow feedback and action. More than ever, active, engaged, efficient and courageous management is needed.
As we all learn to lead and manage in this new world of grey lines and less traditional control, take the time to get clear, for yourself, what RIGHT looks like. Know the difference you make and invest time in your teams knowing what RIGHT looks like so they make the difference, deliver the results and flourish.