- Posted by jwp_institute
- On May 29, 2020
- 0 Comments
A client reached to me and asked, “Could you share some insights about how to return to the office and sort out how we’ll work together when we have different opinions about things like social distance? We have employees at both ends of the spectrum. How can we be respectful each others’ opinions and feelings surrounding the crisis?
Below are a few ideas that might help. Let me know what you think.
Start with your vision. How do you envision your work community operating when associates return to work? Imagine there was a miracle and everything was running perfectly. What does that look like to you?
• Your leadership team is in agreement and you have a consensus about your protocols that everyone actively advocates. Your leaders need to be invested, enthusiastic and champions of your protocols. If anyone on your team is not committed you have a problem. Don’t plan to inspire associates to endorse and support your new protocols unless leaders are 100% onboard.
• How specific are the protocols? When will you reevaluate them? This comes down to what you want in your community. If you take a laissez-faire approach and encourage people to use good judgment keep in mind that your good judgment sounds like half baked gibberish to me. If your protocols are open to interpretation or overly flexible get ready for conflicts about how employees adapt to them. That might be acceptable to you. It’s your community. Maybe you don’t want to pressure people to stay six feet apart or you might decide everyone has to wear a mask in the office. It’s your call. You’ll never please everyone.
• Your protocols are based on your principles. What are they? Your associates want to know. Lead with your principles. Not everyone has to agree with them but they can respect them and follow them in the workplace.
• How do you roll out your protocols? What’s your plan? One memo? A video by the CEO? Local discussion groups in your offices? Zoom conferences? Phone calls?
• Spell out any ground rules about civility in the workplace. Clarify them in memos, emails, videos or Zoom presentations by the CEO and review them in small group discussions with managers.
• Expectations about self care. What are you doing to encourage self care for your associates? How are you going to boost morale in this crisis event? Be creative. Try things you haven’t done before.
• Accept that people are on edge. You don’t know what they’re going through. Some are doing fine. Some are depressed, anxious and more emotionally sensitive. They could be struggling with home schooling, marital issues or family conflicts. They need more support. Some are testy. Those in high risk groups or with family members who are vulnerable feel more threatened. Others are confident they have nothing to worry about. Some believe in physical distancing and others are convinced the threats of COVID 19 have been wildly exaggerated. Probably not the best idea to debate these issues in the workplace but it’s going to happen. Let your principles and protocols lead the way.