Like it or not, as a leader, you are under the microscope.
This pandemic has given leaders ample situations in which to be scrutinized.
Here’s what I mean. Since the world shut down in March, it seems that work has gone one of two ways. Either people are underemployed or unemployed, or are working their butts off.
Where is this extra work coming from?
Maybe more opportunities and sales. Definitely more hours adapting our work to zoom. We work from home where the workday never seems to end. Many of us with full time jobs have another full time – caring for young children and possibly elderly parents.
We’re juggling all this and managing a household. In too many families, this additional workload is not equally distributed.
Far more women than men shoulder the majority of home responsibilities, and so are working really long hours. Or get fed up and leave their jobs. If they leave, it places more work on their colleagues.
I’ve seen three themes in how leaders lead through these scenarios, and two of these themes aren’t good.
Theme #1: Leaders are not adapting their expectations of what can reasonably get done.
They seem to insensitive to what people are dealing with, particularly if the leader isn’t in the same situation themselves. They expect people to either maintain their pre-pandemic pace and productivity, or increase it.
The results: staff resent their leaders, become exhausted, or leave their jobs.
Theme #2: Leaders don’t have team meetings to discuss increased workloads and the emotional fallout from it.
Instead, I hear of leaders throwing work over the transom, expecting their staff to happily catch and embrace the extra work. This can cultivate a toxic team culture, particularly when someone has taken a leave of absence and others are expected to take on their work – without any team conversation about how to fairly distribute it.
The result: staff resent their leaders and each other, become exhausted and demoralized, or leave their jobs.
Theme #3: Leaders continue to find out what their people need and do their best accommodate.
One leader offered his people to take anything they wanted out of the office – their desk, their chair, whatever – and the company delivered it to their home.
The team regularly discusses how to manage workloads, which frequently includes the topic of how the men can step up and contribute more at home. And they’re always in conversation about what is working, what is not working, and how to get what isn’t working…to work.
The result: staff who are grateful for their leaders, work hard and do great work without burning out, and stay in their jobs.
So consider your leadership reputation. Guaranteed your people are talking about you behind your back. Hopefully they’re singing your praises instead of dissing you.
To make sure, consider asking for feedback. Ask those you lead:
- What is your impact?
- What do they want more of, and less of, from you?
Then look in the mirror and ask yourself how you can intentionally become the kind of generous and accommodating leader your people need you to be.
You’ll figure it out. You can do it.