Trust, communication, and reorgs are some of the most common issues across every organization, despite industry and sector. Leadership and diplomacy are among the most common elements that are deficient in every organization and there is no right formula to perfect it. Rather, it is a continuous work in progress. When I conduct systemic reviews for organizations, often, training is the first ‘go-to’ for all managers who believe will be the solution. This is where most organizations go wrong. Let’s put this into perspective. How can training be a solution if the issues are not understood, diagnosed, and recognized? Training will not be impactful.
Where do we start?
Style of management: Looking at your style of management is the first step in recognizing where the problems may arise. Think of it this way, your idea of leadership followed by actions may or may not be consistent with the organization’s values and cultural norms. While I have coached solid managers who do everything right, such as create a psychologically safe space, communicate information from the top down, work with integrity and transparency, and treat their teammates with respect; sometimes, the organization’s culture does not align with personal leadership. And when this occurs, we have toxicity. The culture of an organization is dependent upon the executive leadership, and how they “lead” as opposed to manage. Leadership and management are two different elements, each with its own characteristics. A good manager leads as we already know.
Toxicity arises when the notion of “team” is not built on a solid foundation. Whether you are director, midlevel or first line supervisor, leading is an art and it begins with empathy. Empathy leads to trust, which builds a psychologically safe space. When leaders take the time to know their employees, leaders can certainly optimize on their talents, skills, while offering trainings to sharpen other non-dominant skillsets. What about your employees who can do it all? Are you checking in on them as well? It is important for all managers to lead by checking in on every employee, including your superstars. Checking into your employees at least once a week is helpful in preventing conflicts from escalating, while getting ahead of conflicts before they become volcanos. And working from home can impact how we recognize triggers and manage conflict.
Work Life Balance…….
If we have learned anything with this pandemic it is the notion of work-life balance. The stress of working from home can be overwhelming, almost to the point where we want to go into the office and have conversations with our colleagues. When the pandemic first hit and we were forced to work from home, it was great! The feeling of waking up in your PJs, making a cup of coffee and some toast, all the while sitting at your make-shift home office to check in on emails. A new routine was established- which began with staying up late to watch Netflix or perhaps reading a book and having the convenience to roll out of your bed to log into your work email. This is great. In fact, you can probably find time to get a workout in during the day, shower, and make dinner – and like so many of us, we are all craving adult stimulation in the office. Just think of that annoying colleague who you know miss? And YES, it is happening to all of us. We are missing our colleagues more and more! Working from home has its perks, but we are all attempting to manage work-life stress and balance. Without a balance at home, we are not only trigger happy, but there is an undertone of conflict, annoyance, and tension that can occur. The following are strategies to help you balance work from home stress and maintain your cool:
- Set boundaries: work your hours and not more! It is imperative for you to disconnect from your office, desk, and computer. Leave your thoughts at your home office by physically closing your laptop or shutting off your computer. There is a psychological impact with physically shutting off your computer. Make a self-commitment to not think about work once you log off. This is vital to your health. Do not work overtime if you can avoid it. Our brains are only wired to take in so much information in a day. A brain overload can increase stress, impact health negatively, and will not allow you to process new information in the future.
- Health: get a workout it in during the day. Use your lunch break or meetings to go for a walk. If you are not required to turn on your camera during a meeting, go for a walk as you dial into a meeting. It is a healthy way to de-stress, stimulate your brain, and can help you focus better on work.
Examine your situation and find time for yourself. Many of us who are working from home may have children, parents, or pets to take care. This too can be overwhelming with disruption during the day. Learn to make some time for you. Remember when you overdo it, you will burn out fast and will not be able to help yourself or others.
Be the best leader you can be with the understanding of wanting to be a good leader day and day out, it is vital for you to balance your work-life. If you can do this, you will be able to lead with empathy and understand the dilemmas and stresses your teammates and direct reports may experience while they do the same. The pandemic has changed how we lead. As a leader, you must establish trust by taking the risk to trust your employees are working. Providing them with the flexibility in their work will lead to an increase in quality, decrease call outs for sick days, and more importantly, produce better products and services. Slowly, this will shift the culture of an organization to be psychologically safe.
Written by: Bina Patel