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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Kemp

Let’s get real about managing teams during COVID-19

On a worldwide basis, we are coping with an historic pandemic that has affected each and every one of us in many ways. We’ve transitioned from a less cautious world that gave us a sense of freedom, to being restricted to our homes in efforts to hopefully reduce the spread of this virus. While unpredictable, this is also a unique time—one that has created an opportunity for us to be innovative in our professions, as well as prioritize what gives us joy and purpose.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve been fortunate that my consulting services permitted me to support my clients remotely pre-COVID-19. So, it’s business as usual for MK Consulting Group LLC. However, as a wife and parent to a 5-year old, adjusting to this pandemic has completely shifted how I allocate my days. I am balancing:

  • Zoom/Google Hangout meetings with clients and a business academy program,

  • homeschooling (not my gift), cafeteria service (breakfast, lunch, and snacks), and entertaining our son who now refuses to take naps,

  • scheduling work time (at most 4 hours during the day, and this includes meetings),

  • being attentive to my husband (always been a work in progress; I’m a workaholic),

  • trying to exercise to stay active and release endorphins,

  • and attending virtual gatherings with family, friends, and deejays to keep me sane.

All of this from home.

This is in addition to doing daily wellness check-ins with family and friends to keep a pulse on their mental and physical health, and following the news for social distancing updates. This, like many, is my new normal. From talking to my personal and professional networks, I also acknowledge that some people are caretakers for family members, or have experienced losing loved ones due to this virus. Understanding the psychological trauma that we are all experiencing, how do we keep our teams motivated to work?

Now, there’s tons of research explaining the benefits from working remotely, specifically as it relates to limited distraction to increase productivity. However, with the current times we’re seeing an increase higher than normal in distractions as people are home with family and constantly checking the global status of this virus —it’s a bit nerve wracking. With that in mind, before we check-in on the work, we should check-in on the wellness of our teams. Below are a few suggestions for manager to support their team wellness:

  1. Check in. Before diving into your team meeting agenda, do an emotional-mental check-in that allows your team to vent and share out how they are coping. As a manager, don’t be afraid to model as this creates an opportunity to understand, express empathy, and genuinely connect with your team.

  2. Be realistic about team performance and expectations. Clarify goals, but be thoughtful about flexibility and resources that can be put in place to support your team. This consideration will help you make the right choices, as well as make your team feel good about the security of their job.

  3. Prioritize wellness. Encourage your team to take time to focus on themselves. A small but valuable ask, if permissible, is requesting that they do not work on the weekends. This creates some harmony in balancing personal life and work; and is also a practice we all should take advantage of for emotional stability.

  4. Update policies. Work with human resources to support remote working, flexible PTO and sick days for self-care. This will make working for your company more appealing, increase retention and performance, and ultimately employee satisfaction.

Rolling out these practices will show your commitment to prioritizing the human implications from this issue, as it is not business as usual. We are in this together!

Stay safe, and appreciate each other.

Also published on LinkedIn.

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