The Professional – The Coronavirus Chronicles: 5 Ways to Keep a Team Motivated & Engaged While Working From Home

To be absolutely certain, SARS-CoV-2 has altered and disrupted contemporary life as we know it. Our daily routines have been cast into disarray; so we steel ourselves daily with the resolve and steadfastness to answer different challenges we all face. As I stated in my previous post, working remotely from home is not as glamorous as it may appear to the public. Trust, those of us that can work remotely are blessed. However, there are some challenges that cannot be ignored. Locked down utilizing whatever space is available to conduct work efficiently and effectively can be challenging. For example, my role and responsibilities require a consistent carousel of interaction with suppliers, hospital personnel, sales representatives, executive leadership, and fellow colleagues. These tasks are not an issue within the comforting confines of a cubicle or meeting room. Now, at home – not so much. Without a doubt, the concept of work-life balance has been disrupted. Coupled with the elimination of in-person team collaboration and the specter of furlough or termination; the combined stress can deplete what little remains of a worker’s drive and enthusiasm. As leaders, how can we keep a team motivated and engaged when the energy just isn’t there given the current environment? I am not an expert, but I offer 5 tips below that might be helpful.

  1. A leader should offer sincere praise, praise, and even more praise for a job performed well. Sure, a reward with monetary value would definitely be appreciated. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the strength of verbally acknowledging a colleague’s work and work ethic. Moreover, a leader should actively encourage team members to praise one another. A leader should encourage colleagues to share successes with the team and provide positive work-related topics. Welcoming a positive vibe can definitely boost morale. Now, if a leader really wants to add a personal touch of appreciation, a digital gift card from Grubhub is a popular and inexpensive option. Digital greeting cards that express gratitude is also a great option.
  2. During uncertain and worrisome times, it would not be unusual for a colleague to lose connectivity to their purpose. It is important that a leader touch base with their team periodically throughout the week. During these remote meetings, it is vital to incorporate the company’s mission and vision into the team dialogue. I am not suggesting one quote said mission and vision verbatim. A savvy leader should be able to weave a cogent theme that gently reminds the team of its purpose and role. He or she should clearly state attainable goals, identify areas of opportunity, and tie it all back to mission – which should be mirrored by both the company and team. Remind the team what is at stake and why it is important for the sustainability of the business.
  3. Communication. Communication. Communication. Whether a leader is using Cisco Jabber, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts or simply picking up a telephone; maintaining connectivity with one’s colleagues can help facilitate collaboration and teamwork even from afar. A leader should definitely encourage colleagues to contact one another with the tools provided by the company. On a personal note, during a call this week, I was happy to be informed that 2 of my colleagues had set up their own personal, weekly touch base to review work and set goals as they worked collaboratively.
  4. Just stating facts, I would guess that many colleagues do not hold an undying allegiance to their employer. Completely understanding that reality, yet ensuring that the work at hand is performed, I encourage colleagues to focus on the team to achieve job success. Once when the team was inundated with work and the situation appeared hopeless, I bluntly told them that the cavalry was not coming to the rescue, we only had each other. I also encourage colleagues to view their jobs pridefully as a service to their customers or community. The way a colleague performs their duty is a barometer of how well we serve the public.
  5. In this time of uncertainty, it is paramount that a leader never loses grasp of the human element. Work is work. Nevertheless, that work is performed by individuals. And those individuals carry fear, nervousness, anger, anxiety, and much more. I make a genuine effort to ask my colleagues about non-work related topics. It is my belief that fostering sincere camaraderie amongst colleagues can drive them to work harder, again not for the company, but for each other and the community. And it demonstrates an honest attempt to view them more than just a worker – they are a person.

Licensed to Ill…Behavior – A Simple Request For a Return to Decency, Manners, & Common Sense

The knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. Now, the first few sentences of this post may sound familiar because I penned those words back in 2013 as I was creating my ongoing Standard posts. It amazes me as those words are still true today. Image does matter. Image is sometimes dictated by personal behavior and choices. Now, I wholeheartedly admit that although I identify mostly as a liberal, I still maintain moderate views. That being said, I believe that as a collective, we must champion a standard of self-respect, dignity, and class. This is not sanctimony. This is not respectability politics; it is just plain respectability for oneself. Now, it has been approximately 25 years since I graduated high school, and in just a little over two decades, the cultural shift in principles and decency has been dramatic.

Perhaps it feels dramatic because I am older and this generation’s views regarding manners differ from my own. And perhaps being a father now has aged my way of thinking. However, shouldn’t certain standards be timeless? Can we all agree – using some honest common sense – that all behavior is not created equal? Some conduct is simply ill-mannered and disagreeable. Carrying oneself as a gentleman or as a lady should transcend generations. Yet, some individuals in our more famous population are absolved of any unseemly conduct that a normal person would be roundly criticized. Nevertheless, it feels as if more credence has been afforded some celebrities that don’t represent the best behavior that society has to offer. I fully understand that a celebrity represents a brand not necessarily intended to be a role model. Nonetheless, especially in this day and age, brands are built off a devout following.

Perched upon a pedestal that is supported by unwavering, unbiased devotion; celebrity should not inoculate an individual against a critique of ill behavior. To be sure, power and purpose are pillars of a prominent person’s platform. So there has to be some level of responsibility. Because, when your favorite personality (actor, politician, singer, etc.) is promoting crude behavior, please understand said behavior does not translate seamlessly to every aspect of life. Work. School. Home. There are a lot of impressionable people that emulate what they mistakenly deem as acceptable. Sadly, I feel that my fellow people of color are so angry and determined for representation, they accept the unacceptable and don’t object to the objectionable. So my responsibility as a parent, mentor, and leader is separating fantasy from reality for those that may have challenges discerning between the two. Call me a square, but I would not condone my daughter describing herself as a bad b*tch and showing all her business. Nor would I condone my son sagging his pants and describing himself as a thug n*gga. And this would include any other behavior that would otherwise be considered unbecoming, untoward, unethical, and unnecessary. We have to do better. We have to do better together.

The Standard #48

With absolute certainty, the mantle of leadership demands fidelity to integrity, responsibility, wisdom, and truth. Leadership is an exhausting exercise in guiding others, often thankless, yet undoubtedly needed. It requires a steadfast commitment to exemplifying a righteous standard, a model for all to glean its best virtues. However, do not be mistaken, a person charged with the supervision of others may not necessarily retain the aforementioned leadership prerequisites. Trust, regardless of an individual’s station in life, or designation of a title, everyone is not suited to be a leader. Someone that disseminates disinformation and displays a craven hunger for chaos cannot be considered a true leader. A leader’s actions are dictated not by what is popular, rather, a gentleman’s actions are guided by what is just, reasonable, and logical. In the midst of tumult and tribulation, a leader exudes calm and steadiness. Typified by cohesive communication and unambiguous direction, the servant leader is driven not by emotion. Ideally, he embraces a pragmatic approach based on informed, selfless decision-making in the service of others. He recognizes personal faults; and exhibits a willingness to improve, learn, and mature. His mind is open to differing ideology and thought; always ready to compromise on points that are sensible and rational, as serving others is never lost in his actions.

The Standard #48

With absolute certainty, the mantle of leadership demands a fidelity to integrity, responsibility, wisdom, and truth. Leadership is an exhausting exercise in guiding others, often thankless, yet undoubtedly needed. It requires a steadfast commitment to exemplifying a righteous standard, a model for all to glean its best virtues. However, do not be mistaken, a person charged with the supervision of others may not necessarily retain the aforementioned leadership prerequisites. Trust, regardless of an individual’s station in life, or designation of a title, everyone is not suited to be a leader. Someone that disseminates disinformation and displays a craven hunger for chaos cannot be considered a true leader. A leader’s actions are dictated not by what is popular, rather, a gentleman’s actions are guided by what is just, reasonable, and logical. In the midst of tumult and tribulation, a leader exudes calm and steadiness. Typified by cohesive communication and unambiguous direction, the servant leader is driven not by emotion. Ideally, he embraces a pragmatic approach based on informed, selfless decision-making in the service of others. He recognizes personal faults; and exhibits a willingness to improve, learn, and mature. His mind is open to differing ideology and thought; always ready to compromise on points that are sensible and rational, as serving others is never lost in his actions.

The Standard #46

Because, upon discovering himself in the midst of uncertainty and disquiet, the confident gentleman understands that indecision cannot be an absolute decision. This is exactly where I discovered myself, as a supervisor, this month at my place of employment. Over the course of two years, it has been an enlightening, humbling experience wrought with anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. At times, finally feeling a self-assured comfort with my leadership abilities, and other times, arrested by a sense of failure and inadequacy within my profession. However, when confronted with extenuating circumstances on a myriad of fronts, the definitive, resolute decision-making of a leader was required, and I would either excel or succumb to my professional fears. As reason and logic stood in ambiguous contrast with emotion and empathy, only prayer and deep meditation could grant sound thinking and measured action. And in the end, I was the leader that I had difficulty embracing. Sometimes, the Lord allows tribulation to have a season to reveal self-assured abilities, integrity, and character within oneself in the face of debilitating self-doubt. Faith is trusting the Lord even when life’s challenges are perplexing and burdens appear too heavy to bear. You are the leader that you know you are; trust in Him and fortify yourself in His strength.

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