We're living in a time of unprecedented change, but even under more "normal" circumstances, transformation and uncertainty are foundational to business (and life). Whether navigating challenging circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic or positive ones like unprecedented periods of growth, managers have the ability to proactively strengthen team connections during times of change. Here are some tips to help keep your team engaged, even amid the most turbulent situations.
1. Be open and honest
In some situations, leaders may be limited in what they can share, but you should always aim to provide your team with whatever information you can in a timely and professional manner. When things are changing quickly, access to information is comforting and helps to maintain a small sense of control. Fostering open discussions with your team about what's going on, what it might mean for them, and when you expect to have more information will help build trust and strengthen team connections. (Fun fact: Research suggests trust is the single most important thing in an employer-employee relationship.) This also gives you an opportunity to address your team's fears and concerns and build the understanding that "we are all in this together"which is a powerful motivator and cohesion builder.
2. Set clear expectations and responsibilities
If anything is changing on your team (structure, responsibilities, strategy, etc.) it's crucial that you address these changes as soon as possible and clearly define roles and expectations. Be sure to include insight and input from your team so that you're setting realistic deadlines and goals. It's also a good idea to be extra-accessible during times of change, so you're available to answer any questions or clarify new projects as they come up.
3. Keep your team involved
Remember: You hired your people for a reason. Trust is a two-way street, and in order to be an effective leader you must demonstrate your trust in your team's abilities. Great leaders also know that listening is just as important as communicating and this is particularly true during times of uncertainty and additional stress. When your people feel trusted and relied upon, they are likely to feel motivated and connected. Your ability to make good decisions as a leader also relies upon insight from your team, so ensure you're listening closely to their feedback.
4. Acknowledge your people
When your people have been working hard in the face of change, don't forget to show your genuine appreciation. Saying "thank you" in a meaningful way can look like a spot bonus, an afternoon off, a handwritten note or heartfelt email. The key is to genuinely acknowledge their contributions. Your people are your business. Make sure they know that their hard work is being seen and is making a difference.
Karina Schultheis is a content marketing manager at Ultimate Software.Ultimate Software is a leading provider of cloud-based HCM solutions.