COVID-19 has driven the largest workforce evolution since the Industrial Revolution.
In 2021, nearly ⅓ of Americans left their jobs and the trend continues.¹ Many factors have fueled the Great Resignation, but ineffective leadership is near the top of the list. However, leaders can choose to view the Great Resignation in the same way many individuals do — as an opportunity. A time for a reset. A Great Reset.
In order to successfully reset with your team, you need to start with yourself.
A concept I have focused on with my clients during this crisis is to “control what we can control”.
We can’t control the pandemic, vaccine and mask mandates, an unsupportive boss, or the direct report that constantly goes around us. We can, however, control our thoughts and actions.
Here are three things in your control, that will help you navigate any crisis:
Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential.
A recent CDC survey showed that 42% of US adults have reported feelings of anxiety or depression during the pandemic relative to 11% reporting these symptoms prior.² Almost all of us feel some degree of elevated stress.
Most of us put our families and jobs ahead of ourselves, especially during uncertain times. This is manageable for a while, but not sustainable long-term.
Self-care has never been more important. Put time in your calendar every day to do something good for yourself — exercise, meditate, read, or nap, — whatever works for you.
Here are some specific “How To’s” for improving your health and wellness.
Downtime is our most creative time.
Allocate time in your calendar to write clear, specific personal and professional goals. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and come up with “stretch” goals that seem difficult to hit. Write them down and tape them to your monitor, or list them in a daily calendar reminder. Think about these goals frequently, envision accomplishing them, and allow yourself to feel the excitement of doing so.
My colleague Gavin McMahon, for example, makes a strong case for why one such goal could be better storytelling in 2022.
Adopt a “change mindset” to succeed in an ever-changing world.
As a coach, I try to make my clients uncomfortable because discomfort is a prerequisite for change. During uncertain times, we resist change and cling to comfort. However, “the key is to reinvent in permanence. We can no longer wait until we reach a stall point….that is too late. We must build a constant flow of reinvention initiatives into business, careers, and life.”³
When you are thinking about your goals and vision for this year, make them transformative. What will look different for you at the end of this year?
Here are our thoughts on how to be a more agile thinker.
One of the mistakes leaders have made during COVID is driving a return to “Business As Usual.”
Many leaders in my old world of Wall Street called for a "return to office" and BAU. They set a date. June 2021. Delta happened. They set a new date. November 2021. Employees bucked and employers blinked. Another new date: Jan 2021. Cue Omicron.
They all had to reconsider rigid thinking, backtrack on deadlines and wake up to the concept of a more flexible, hybrid work model.
Work-related burnout is at record levels. We have written previously on how you can extinguish it. Building off that, here are three ways to reset with your team to collectively navigate this crisis:
Align around your vision, mission, and goals.
Encourage candid feedback. We recommend confidential 360 surveys ahead of an offsite. This demonstrates your desire to “get everything on the table” and address the challenges you collectively face.
Another important tool for aligning with your team is to better understand how you “think'' and how your team “thinks.”
The biggest mistake we see leaders make is applying rigid thinking to address broad challenges and to set strategy. Leaders need to better understand how they and their colleagues think, act, and lead. We believe this is the best way to facilitate finding alignment with your team and your strategy.
Your habits will determine your future of work.
Verizon, a company we partner with, has allowed each division to come up with its own plan for “Work Forward.” This approach empowers teams to determine what “hybrid work” looks like. Even if you aren’t given this freedom in your company, you can develop what we call “Simple Rules” that you and your team will abide by going forward.
Since hybrid work is here to stay, examples of simple rules might be practical measures to acknowledge and prevent "Zoom Gloom": creating “No Meeting Zones”, cutting all meetings by 5-10 minutes to provide breaks, and banning PowerPoint decks for internal meetings.
A team reset requires you to over-index on personal connection.
Most people responded positively to remote work. The lack of personal connection, however, remained a major drawback. In a recent Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries, “people consistently report feeling disconnected, and the shift to remote work [has] shrunk people’s networks.”⁴
As fassforward CEO Rose Fass said early on during the pandemic “physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing.”
The biggest mistake we see leaders make is connecting in a way that they, the leader, are comfortable. While it’s important to understand how colleagues think, you also need to understand how they like to connect. Some are “high touch” and some are “low touch”, while others are “high task” and some “low task.”
Here’s how to use Touch/Task to better connect with your team.
Winston Churchill famously stated, “never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Interestingly, he said it toward the end of World War II with a vision of what the world could become after the war.⁵ His vision (along with FDR) was the creation of the United Nations as a way to prevent World War III.
As we near the end of this crisis (hopefully), it’s important to recognize this opportunity to reset. Embracing a mindset of constant improvement and evolution that a reset represents is the key to successfully navigating this crisis and the inevitable crises ahead.
¹ “Quits: Total Nonfarm.” Mini Fred 30 Years Logo, 4 Jan. 2022
² “Symptoms of Anxiety or Depressive Disorder and Use of Mental Health.”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Apr. 2021
³ McCullen, Aidan. “Undisruptable”. John Wiley & Sons, 2021. Page 30
⁴ Baym, Nancy. “What a Year of WFH Has Done to Our Relationships at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 22 Mar. 2021
⁵ “Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste - FocusCFO.” FocusCFO, 27 May 2020.