It will be vital to support your teams on an individual basis as reopening beckons, says Wendy Bartlett.
We have been here before, but it finally looks like we are soon to take a step towards recovery – yippee! I'm so excited to eat out and have a real holiday.
The ‘rebuild, regroup, recovery' process is under way to a greater or lesser degree in most businesses, but we are all toying with what that will look like.
It sounds clichéd, but with all this uncertainty, the one thing that is going to get us all through is the focus we place on the wellbeing and development of our teams. Without an engaged and happy team, we will find it much harder.
At the best of times, good engagement bolsters reputations and sales of an organisation. This is multiplied tenfold when we are facing challenging circumstances.
This is where, as leaders and active team members, we need to tap into every ounce of organisational emotional intelligence. We have to make sure that we have stepped into our team's shoes and understood the impact of the pandemic on them as the individuals they are.
We have to make sure that we have stepped into our team's shoes and understood the impact of the pandemic on them as the individuals they are
While we have had our own stresses and strains to deal with, it does not undermine or equal those that the team has gone through. Their experience is theirs to own – we can't know what that is like, so we can only try to be aware of its impact on them.
We have to remember that some may have been affected more than others. Some may have had loved ones near or far taken from them; had the strain of home life, either through loneliness or family stress; had childcare issues; or suffered from too many in a shared house.
The person they were when they left us to go on furlough, part-time or intermittent working is not necessarily the same person we will have back.
A massive consideration is that they maybe haven't had the early mornings or late nights, and they haven't had to be on their feet all day or deal with the pressure of service. It will take time to get back into the swing. You sometimes need help to find your mojo.
It's important to have this awareness as customers and guests will also have had circumstances we are not aware of and may need more reassurance. Getting our teams to understand this while dealing with their own stress is another pressure.
When your teams return, it's vital to take time to check in with them. So much is lost when interactions are not face to face and we may have lost the ability to detect or be aware of that.
Engaging your team enough through the next few weeks will be paramount – maybe small group walks in parks or thoughtful pre-training days to just get them used to what is expected. Social get-togethers remotely is a good way to reconnect and start the ball rolling.
Things are going to be different in all aspects and reassurance is needed on all levels.
On a personal level, my team have been a massive support to me. Their willingness to engage, the weekly events they organise, the small touches and great communications have really been a reward far greater than any monetary measure or pressure. The pandemic has shown that how you treat others will be long remembered after this event.
It's an important part of our legacy and I truly believe how we have communicated and kept our teams informed, how we showed through small things that we cared, will be remembered. It will reap its rewards.
We're hoping the pandemic journey is soon to be behind us, and we are embarking on a brand new one – alongside the brilliant teams we appreciate now more than ever.
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