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Masked Elbow-bumpIn a year defined by hardships and uncertainty, constructive working communication is as important as ever. It can be the backbone in fostering and maintaining morale, keeping production at a necessary pace, and preserving a positive workplace culture. With so much to do and worry about, “checking in” with staff may not be high on the list of a leader’s priorities right now, but it is imperative to keeping the ship afloat. At LM Thomas Group, we regularly help organizations conceive and sustain the practice of communication for the good of the entire company. Given the current climate, we have put together a quick list of easy tips to keep your workplace communicating, collaborating, and achieving.

“We and Us.”

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shutterstock 96618349It takes courage to lead, especially when you get to lead other people.

Most people tend to not leave their emotions out of the work they do.

Sure, there are tasks or job roles where objectivity is desirable and achievable. However, assuming that everyone has the ability or even should lock up their feelings in order to focus on getting work done is a recipe for disaster.

Have you ever been a member of a group, working towards a common goal, yet the same issue hindered progress because no one wanted to say anything to the person contributing to the problem to avoid hurting that person’s feelings?

You might have heard the phrase, “everyone is a leader because everyone has influence”. Keep that in mind no matter who you are or what you do. You are a leader.

Too often, leaders can allow fear to drive interactions with others. Have you been in situations where you decided not to provide feedback for fear that the person on the receiving end would think one of the following things:

  • You are being too harsh.
  • Why are you so critical of what I do?
  • You think you are so much better than me, that you want to tell me what to do?
  • Did you want to be the supervisor?
  • I am not the only one you should be concerned about...and the list could go on!

In her book, Dare to Lead,  Brené Brown shares these two incredible statements:

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emptybatteryWorking from depletion is hard. Most of us are doing that right now, having used up any crisis capacity we had earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are five things we can do to move forward.

Our Initial Crisis Capacity

When we worked from our crisis capacity, our personal and organizational energy surged as we leapt into action, froze up, or disconnected from the situation in front of us. We scrambled to adjust to shutdown orders, school closings, remote work, distance learning, uncertain toilet paper capacity, and cancelled events. This initial burst also translated into people helping others in some extraordinary ways – bringing meals to high-risk people so they didn’t have to go out, babysitting and school “pods”, and the relaxation of work rigidity to allow for the flexibility of parents working from home with their school-aged (and preschool) children suddenly in the mix.

But like one of those preschool-aged children after having eaten too many cookies, once the energy burst is over, the crash comes. This crash has happened both for individuals and organizations simultaneously. We used our reserves of energy, money, emotional/relational capacity, sleep, intellect, and the rest. Because the crisis has shifted from acute to chronic, many of the things we do to recharge and rebuild those reserves aren’t available to us.

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FatigueLooking past outcomes to process all the time is taxing! It requires constant attention-to-detail as well as fighting natural inclinations and tendencies.

 

Fatigue is inevitable. As it creeps in, attention wanes and performance drops. At best, people achieve only a fraction of their productivity potential. At worst, they can create new problems and more work for their organization. Individuals can take steps to fight their own depletion. But sometimes it takes a leader's touch to refresh their staff.

 

The Ratio

Through trial and error, I have arrived at a 19 to 1 ratio: for every 19 hours of high-intensity work, people need an hour of structured decompression.

 

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We have seen it happen: a frustrated facebook post goes awry. Screenshots are taken and shared widely across the medium. In mere minutes, someone makes the connection between the poster and their employer. Quickly, you are faced with a firestorm of public comments demanding you push a good employee out or risk the rising calls to “cancel” your business. What do you do? How do you avoid it? If it happens, how do you handle it?

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Many business leaders are understandably wary of approaching their staff about personal social media use. When the problem erupts, however, companies are often forced to publicly explain that “such comments are not in line with our values and mission.” Now, because the association has been dragged into the focus, the condemnation is not that you employ one reckless individual. The liability is that you have a culture problem.

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