Lockdown learning, leadership during Covid

Lockdown learning, leadership during Covid


We are sailing through uncharted waters; facing unprecedented change to our lives, both in and out of work as the response to the spreading coronovirus grows.

The situation came home to me just two days ago when my son’s International World Quiz Final due to take place in New Zealand in July was cancelled. Not postponed, cancelled. Next year he will be out of the age category. The disappointment of losing both the opportunity to be a world champion aged 13 combined with losing the holiday of his lifetime so far was huge. I cried for him.

Today, on Friday, as the owner of a face-to-face training business I have to be realistic about what may happen in the next few months. I hope you are too. What happens if you have most of your workforce working from home? How will you manage them in a different way when fear will be affecting all our behaviour?

With children/partners/life at home, some people will struggle. The transition to homeworking can be tough, as can the management of homeworkers. We are in a brave new world and there will be some mistakes along the way. How we manage these will be remembered and set the tone for the future culture.

Having said all that though, one thing we do here at the Harrison Network very successfully is train / coach people to think entrepreneurially – to spark innovation  from challenge, find opportunity in adversity. So here, for me, are 5 things to do before the change is forced upon us, so that you can be as ready as possible and allow innovation and opportunity to flow:

  1. Set the tone: Decide as a leadership team how you are going to be. Do you want to be able to speak candidly about how its going during this crisis or hide things away behind closed doors? If you want honesty from your team you have to demonstrate it first, AND you have to be careful of your reactions the first time someone is honest to you. Now is the time to stop the blame game and play together.
  2. Give away responsibility: Ask your team how they are going to manage their work, what they are going to try first, how to prioritise and how they want to check in, then be prepared to trial and change it if it’s not working. You cannot micromanage homeworkers. #justsaying
  3. Have a regular coffee meeting, just for a chat, preferably with video and all together, but if not then at the least phone everyone once a day. Make sure you are clear its for non-work related stuff to allow people to let off steam. NOTICE those that are not engaging and follow up with them, just in case things are not going so well. Its easy when you transition to home working to get distracted, eat too much, not move from in front of your screen, etc etc… people can learn from one another how to thrive, not just survive.
  4. Be kind. Having change thrust upon you is not easy. Disappointment, frustration, anger, fear are all intensely negative emotions and can change behaviours. Let’s use the MRI (Most Respectful Interpretation) of any correspondence that we have, calm emotions and avoid taking offence in this difficult time.
  5. Have Fun: Seek what CAN be done. With such a major change thrust upon us, many of the old processes we have hung on to will have to change. Great! Let’s use the opportunity to test new ones. To get rid of things that no longer serve us. What do our customers want that is different? Each of your team members will have different ideas. Let’s have fun with some creativity and find the opportunity in this adversity.

So, I have ideas flying around my head for the future; my question is which to do first!

Can you add anything to the list? What else would you recommend for people? If you’d like someone to facilitate your first fully remote meeting, we can host it and test your systems together.

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