Preparing your team for the new normal working
As recovery from the crisis begins and people venture back to work, managing the return to the new working environment will demand much thought and careful leadership.
There’s the need to ensure that all business processes continue to work efficiently, and particularly for charities with income dependent on donations, this means ensuring that regular giving Direct Debits, and one off donations processing remain consistent.
It’s important to prioritise collection dates so no payments are missed, vital regular income continues, and supporter trust and confidence is maintained.
But there’s also your team to consider. After months of lockdown, it is likely many will feel some degree of trepidation about coming back to the office, whether about possibly still catching coronavirus or managing childcare if schools have not reopened.
How can charity leaders best support the wellbeing of their teams, as we ease out of lockdown and back into some sense of normality?
With all of our lives thrown into disarray over the past few months, we must be aware of the extra issues our people may be facing.
Financial, health and mental wellbeing, all might affect their behaviour, so it’s important to not only be a strong leader, but a kind one too. Here are some things to consider:
- People need to feel safe at work. Social distancing will have to be enabled and observed throughout the office for the foreseeable future. Make sure you communicate new policies and protocols well in advance so everyone is clear, feels safe, and knows where to come with any questions or concerns.
- Be sure everyone feels part of the process. You may decide to reintroduce office working in phases, to be sure changes or new layouts will work effectively. Explain if and why some people are being brought back before others, especially at this time when so many people may be worrying about their job security.
- Some staff may have found working from home suits them. This could also be the time to look at how your organisation might be able to accommodate this going forward, if the role is suitable and it’s seen to have a positive impact on performance and work-life balance.
- Ensure everyone knows it’s okay to struggle, and that their mental and physical wellbeing matters. Keep communication open, touch base often and listen, and encourage team social chats and catch ups. Make sure they know that help is there if they need it, whether it’s talking to someone at your own organisation, or through others such as Mind, Samaritans and Citizens Advice.
- If you’re having a hard time, lead by example: be kind to yourself, take time out if you need it, and let your team see what you’re doing.
- Look out for signs that someone might need a little support. If someone is slow to respond to work communications, is briefer than usual, or takes longer to get things done, there could be a good reason. Checking in with a quick phone call might be a better approach than firing off an email. Tone can be difficult to judge in written communications and can often be misunderstood.
- Take a moment to recognise good work. These are unquestionably trying times: people have had to adapt their working practices often at short notice whilst still keeping up the same high standards. So let them know their efforts are appreciated, and give recognition when they do something well.
- Review whether you need external support temporarily. It will take time to work out how best to move forward, consider too how you might relieve some of the pressure. Now could be a good time for example, to outsource or enlist specialist support for your payment processes on a short-term basis, while you concentrate on how best to get your office back up and running.
While we can’t control the current situation, we can control how we lead. And being kinder towards those we work with as well as to ourselves will only help to nurture better working relationships, helping people to feel more valued and, it follows, more motivated and better equipped to do their jobs – good for them, and for your organisation.
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