Is it Blursday Again?

Tips for Leading Through the Confusion

Jackie & Kevin Freiberg

“The key is to customize. Remember — one size fits one.”

COVID-19 has created the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. In the U.S., 62% of the workforce is working remote or virtual. Teams and organizations that once connected frequently and in-person are now dispersed and working individually in uncertain and blurred environments. The shift will inevitably challenge the culture of your organization. Whether you planned for it or not, you are in the midst of a macro test of collective vulnerability – a test of your individual and team response to uncertainty, risk, exposure and change.

Leading through the blur requires curiosity and courage. Courage and curiosity ask, “What changes must bubble up from within the organization?”

Courageous leaders will incite organizational curiosity by creating a culture of collective genius. A culture that invites teams to redefine work and see new opportunities to add value and keep the business alive. In the current situation, virtual requires everyone to lead and change. So, rather than being told WHAT to do, people should be inspired to think about what should or could change and what they can do to make the most productive contributions.

Just because a new normal might be settling in, now is not the time to get comfortable and complacent with people. Now is the time to double down on performance and connection to get more to bubble up.

Gallup conducted a 12-year study on remote work trends focused on what teams want from virtual leadership in order to engage, meet expectations and thrive.

THREE Performance and Connection Goals everyone should be intently focused on:

  1. Accountability — Whether for yourself or for your team, set clear expectations with measurable and regular accountability checks. Some people may want and appreciate regular checks, others may find it disruptive. Ask and lean in respectively. Identify the best ways to support yourself and your team.
  2. Individualization — Discuss how things are getting done. Ask what is and has been your most efficient and effective workflow? Identify how to optimize your performance. Some people may have learned they’re MORE productive working remote, some may be struggling in a blurred work/home/virtual environment. DO you know? If not, you need to know. Some people may work more efficiently in the mornings, others in the afternoon and evening. The bigger point here is to find ways to optimize the performance of everyone. Do not demand consistency in this inconsistent environment; make flexibility and experimentation an option.
  3. Engagement — Hone your strategies for communicating and connecting to grow engagement. Is it time to revisit what has become normal? Check-in and dare to ask your colleagues what needs to change and what might be helpful.

What can you do?

  • The key is to Customize — remember one size fits one.
  • Be Curious — stop telling. Ask, probe and listen.
  • Be Courageous — Embrace the suck. Do not avoid tough conversations. Instead, make it safe for people to speak to YOU and give you honest input on what they need to thrive and perform most effectively and efficiently to get through the blur.

2021 Update – As we begin to exit the pandemic, read up on strategies for reinventing the workplace as we return to a new normal.