Leading and managing has always been a tough gig if you care about your people.
Balancing the financial constraints of a business with the desire to delight your customers in the face of tough global competition is hard enough.
But add in the desire to create a great working environment, to champion equality and diversity, to foster talent, to nurture your people and ensure they maximise their potential on this earth – and you’ve got a big challenge on your hands.
Not least because every one of those people is an individual. Shaped by different upbringings, role models and life experiences. Driven by different ambitions, wants and needs. Responding to life’s challenges and changes in uniquely different ways.
Take two female clients I was working with recently who had gone back to the office for the first time.
I found it completely overwhelming. There was simply too much stimulation. I couldn’t wait to get back home.
Whilst the other said:
I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but I have to admit that it’s been nice seeing my team again in person. I’m actually feeling really energised by it.
One found it overwhelming; the other energising.
A perfect illustration of how differently people are responding and will respond to returning to work post the pandemic and in the new new normal. And that was just 2 people. Imagine multiplying that by 10, 50, 100, 1000, or more.
Moreover, when we were all in the office together there was nowhere to hide. Our emotions were on display. We shared the highs and lows. The wins and the losses. The successes and failures. We worked together, socialised together, partied together. We knew if something was going wrong and could intercept. We could sense a conflict brewing and seek to defuse the situation.
We were also all in the same boat. With so many companies moving to more of a hybrid approach in the new new normal (and I’m all in favour of more flexible working), that won’t be the case any more.
Going forward, how will you ensure you treat everyone fairly? How will you ensure there isn’t a two-tier system? People being judged for staying at home? People being judged for coming into the office with a common cold? By you or their colleagues?
Will those who come to the office more be seen and heard more and hence valued more? Will those choosing to work from home more scupper their chances of a promotion?
There is a lot to navigate for leaders and employees alike in this new new normal but being aware of the potential pitfalls as a leader, being conscious of any inherent biases and being mindful of your responses will ensure that you’re as ready as you can be.
#leadership #newnormal #hybridworking