Managing in lockdown

This is a tough time to manage a team – we are collectively going through the most traumatic period in most living history, all impacted in different ways, and yet business needs to go on.

Managing people was the main topic of our very first Swindon Founders back in November 2019 – it came up by accident really with Nick from Bravedog admitting it was not his strength with Jane & Steve from Silicon Practise being passionate about their team development and nurturing individuals.

But we’ve gone from day to day, in person management to trying to be a team remotely – with colleagues potentially also juggling home schooling, worrying about their job, their partners, their parents or their own health. All wrapped up with the nervous energy of trying to make sense of a situation we cannot make sense of or solve ourselves.

Initially we all jumped onto team zoom calls, talked lots and shared emotions – it was only going to last until May wasn’t it? That felt do-able, it was great to not have to commute and as long as you could get a home shopping delivery slot and had toilet roll life felt like it could be ok.

But the months have gone on, and 2020 is not looking like getting back to normal for most of us for the rest of the year – social distancing has meant some offices could open, some can’t, and some of your team maybe can’t come back in due to childcare or don’t want to get on the train.

What can you do to support your team through this period?

Give them individual time – whether you are starting to go back into the office or not. Schedule one to one time with each team member and talk to them about how they are coping with this as well as how their work is going.

Encourage cross-team support – everyone is going through the same experience, in different ways, and we all need to talk about how we are feeling, and a colleague is often easier to talk to than a manager.

Ensure they are structuring their time – it has been very easy to totally lose the divide between work and home time when it has all become the same space, if your team are still working from home encourage them to block their time, avoid working into the evenings.

Show empathy – we’ve all had good and bad days in lockdown, allow for that in your team too and encourage them to take time off when they need it, be able to vocalise a down day and feel supported.

Make sure they take holiday – it seemed silly to book time off in lockdown, where would we go – but that meant a lot of people have not had a break for 6 months. Even a few days away from the screen will help, we all need time and space away from work to come back refreshed and focussed.

Schedule some fun – a zoom quiz is so May 2020 – how about a socially distanced picnic lunch? Get outside and share quality time with your team. Ask them what they would like to do – we all need something to look forward to!

Key theme is to keep talking, be gentle with your team as they are all going through a tough time in different ways.

But also be gentle with yourself, as a founder or manager, you are also going through all the same things, be aware if you are having a tough day or struggling to balance everything and ask your team for help – they are there for you too, and we are all human!

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