BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 21 APR 2020


Three things to help your people right now

We’ve never known anything like it. It’s scary; the numbers dead are – in the UK at the time of writing – climbing every day – and we’re worried about what this means for ourselves; our families and our work.

Still got a job and actively working i.e. not on furlough? You’re one of the lucky ones. Yet you probably question that when you wake up at 3, 4, 5am, catastrophising, heart thumping, shattered during the day and worried that your best just might not be good enough. You’re probably feeling guilty, because some colleagues have disappeared from Zoom/Teams/Webex calls.

On furlough? You might be struggling to create structure, activity and purpose to your day. Sleeping later and longer, the PJs staying on until they could walk around alone. I hope you’re getting a focus and some peace of mind.

Maybe you’ve lost your job, in which case I am profoundly sorry. It’s a hellish thing to happen and I really hope you get back to work soon.

Everyone in every business in the land has been affected. Just like Covid-19, none of us is immune.

What we do know is that we need to adapt, adapt, adapt. We’re moving online and meeting clients and delivering to them virtually.

Right now, and when we get back to some semblance of normality, we ignore the effects of this time, and the valuable lessons to be learned from it, at our peril. We need to focus on culture; communication and care. We’ve lost enough people, one way or another – we don’t need to lose any more because we neglect their feelings.

Here are our top three things you can do to help your people right now:

  • Pick up the phone; zip on the Zoom: don’t talk to people simply about what they’re doing - operational stuff is of course really important right now - but so is the human cost of this. Bring out the “F-word” – feelings. Ask – “How are you feeling?” or “What’s on your mind at the moment?”. Lots of people default to “Fine”*. Take a moment to dig deeper by saying “And what does ‘fine’ look or feel like for you?”. Do that one-to-one.
  • Get your team together – again on Zoom, MS Teams or whatever you’re using – and use it as an opportunity to do some team-building. Put them into breakout rooms, give them something to discuss e.g. “What are you doing to manage your own wellbeing?” and then come back to share those and create a best-practice tip sheet. There’s a wealth of information on the web right now about how to manage your own wellbeing, but having people’s views who are close colleagues will be much more meaningful and increase the chances that people will actually do some of them (it’s called Social Proof).
  • Share your vulnerabilities. This is not the time to be all gung-ho, all John Wayne, all super-hero, projecting invincibility and knocking through walls with your bare hands. This is the moment to say “Yes, this is a difficult time, and I’m worried about it too”. You don’t need to be wailing, pulling your hair and gnashing your teeth. You can say you’re worried in a calm way. Vulnerability creates intimacy, intimacy creates trust, and trust creates a team environment in which people will pull together even more, respect you even more, respect one another even more.

*FINE – the alternative definition - F*&^ked-up; Insecure; Neurotic; Emotional, has never been more apposite!