When shit hits the fan – wear a raincoat

When I was a teenager, I was at a party where a group of friends turned up in raincoats. Why? They knew they were going to start a food fight and had the foresight to protect themselves for when it kicked off. Needless to say, the rest of us got hammered. 

Taking into consideration today’s climate, I think most of us feel like those at the party who didn’t get the memo to wear a raincoat – unprotected and vulnerable.  

As leaders, what are you going to do in your workplace to protect your team from a similar shit storm? 

At this stage, it’s likely your people have experienced one, if not more, of the following:  

  • Reduced motivation due to extended isolation and removal of motivation and progress cues
  • Less emotional connection and therefore team cohesion
  • Decreased connection to business purpose; hence less fulfilment in work
  • Compromised focus due to uncertainty, which can lead to emotionally drained team members coming back to work.

My recommendation would be to move now. 

These last few months have been beyond challenging. You’ve had it coming from all directions: drought, bush fires and more recently, Covid-19. It’s time to hit the reset button and ensure that you and your team are focused, have the right attitude and are doing the right things to move your business forward. 

There are three areas where, as a leader, you can focus. 

  1. Deal with above the line problems

In the first instance, you need to remove the ‘story’ as there’s so much of it going on at the moment. There’s a lot of noise, distraction and misinformation surrounding you and your team. Focus on the facts, update your data and make deliberate decisions without getting lost in the ‘story’. 

What are your three (3) biggest risks and three (3) biggest opportunities? Get to work on handling them as a team.

The second component of dealing with above the line problems is to control your response. Focus on being centred in the eye of the storm – in that place between the stimulus ( the shit hitting the fan) and your reaction to it ( your response). Your best leadership capabilities live in this space. You need to practice control in your response. This doesn’t mean moving slow. It means you need to commit to deliberate, purposeful actions.

  1. Challenge your staff to pick the right attitude

Good things come from tough situations. As a leader, you need to be able to paint the big picture so your team can see what they’re up for. Clearly identify the attitudes and behaviours required and check in with them regularly to ensure they have the right mindset to cope and move the business forward. 

CHECK-IN: Regularly test and challenge each other on the mental frames being used to ensure they align with the outcomes you want, within the context of your current environment. Note: do this with care and attention. 

  1. Establish accountability

Make sure you are crystal clear about what’s achievable in the short term for your team/s and that there is a clear focus around deliverable goals. Celebrate both effort and achievement often, taking into context the new environment.As a leader, now more than ever, you need to help your team wear the raincoat by providing a level of focus to their personal standards, care for your customers and commitment to the business as a whole.

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