Managing in a COVID World

In the latest installment of the Hodge Tech Series (7th October) we tackled a topic at the forefront of many business owner’s minds: How to manage effectively in a COVID world. We brought together leading experts, Phil Hain and Cai Gwinnutt to share their insight into the ways that managers support their team to achieve their best work during this period.
Liam Middleton
Project Assistant | Tramshed Tech
Run in partnership with Hodge, the Hodge Tech Series brings together innovative startups and established businesses in monthly roundtable discussions with the goal of working together to find solutions to common challenges.

For this session we brought together leading experts, Phil Hain and Cai Gwinnutt to discuss how working practices have changed in the last 6 months and subsequently how businesses can adapt in order to continue supporting employee wellbeing as well as business growth.

Watch the webinar below now.

5 Key Takeaways:

Resilience – employees will have different levels of resilience which when depleted can be swayed by both positive and negative events. Give everyone the opportunity to work through change at their own pace. Try to recognise when someone is in a negative spiral as they may need additional support.
Communication – find the method of communication that works best for you and your team. Try to move away from spontaneous communication towards something more structured and transparent.  Remember to celebrate success, even the small things, as a group.
Performance Management – Spend some time thinking about your own working style and how this aligns with your colleagues styles. Are you a micromanager? How do you respond to change and how does this affect your ability to lead?
Managing Yourself – find a way to work that suits you and your team. Identify habits that might not be serving the business and break free from the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ mentality.
Managing Others – show that you care for the people in your team. Even the smallest of gestures can make a big difference. In times like this, small everyday acts of leadership go a long way.
Classic Change Curve

As we come to the end of 2020 we find ourselves on this on-going emotional rollercoaster. People are experiencing a level of change unlike any they have seen before. It’s our job as managers and organisations to recognise and understand the emotional responses our employees are having to these changes. Maintaining resilience will be crucial for both companies and individuals as they transition.

As we encounter change we will usually go through several key stages (see diagram), which once understood can help pick us up when we need it or bring us back down to reality if we’re overthinking.

Find out if/where your employees are on this journey and how they are feeling about the process of change. Employees need time to learn and adapt, to recharge and reflect. Employees can easily find themselves in a negative space that is very difficult to get out of, especially for those who are having to work from home for the first time ever.

Communication is key. What is the point of each meeting you have? How would your employees rate each meeting if they had too? Find the most effective way of communicating for you and your team. One way you might do this is through the scrum process tool. Scrum encourages teams to learn through experiences, self organise while on a problem and reflect on wins and losses to continuously improve. Fluid communication will make it easier to assess performance, and provide solutions to any problems.

The bottom line is if employees aren't being productive and aren’t performing, the business will struggle to survive. Businesses should consider allowing a certain level of flexibility for people to work in a way that suits them. Doing this will show care, empathy and gratitude towards employees which in turn will make them feel more comfortable at work and in the long run: increase their productivity with their wellbeing.

Not everything is down to the organisation. Employees can also think about the way in which they are conducting their work. What is it that makes a good work day from a bad one? Step back and take a look at what would make working from home easier. It’s easy to put a business head on and only focus on targets, but it’s still important to review your own progress. There should still be time for personal development in the workplace. Lockdown has brought about a whole library of free webinars you can join to further your own skills, knowledge — share these with your team and create a culture of learning.

At the end of the day people are the most important asset to a business. It's no wonder then then that it’s important to show you care about your employees. At the end of the day, we’re social creatures so a small gesture can go a long way. Just knowing that your manager genuinely cares about you and isn’t just interested in the results you are bringing can create a bedrock of confidence.

About the speakers

Phil Hain is a chartered occupational psychologist and executive coach and has been providing OD consultancy services and coaching to a wide variety of private and public sector organisations for over 28 years.

Cai Gwinnutt is an experienced product owner and technology executive with a passion for building great products and teams. He has worked across medical, education, artificial intelligence and startup sectors.

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