Here we are, one month into the quarantine and many of us have yet to find the magic potion for managing a full-time job, homeschooling, childcare and whatever else now rules your days. Swaying between a multitude of emotions and just trying to make it through a single day, or sometimes just to lunch, has become the norm. As a manager, organization, leadership and resourcefulness often come naturally. Except during a pandemic, we suddenly have to organize our entire lives at once. The finite line between home and work has become fully blurred and any attempt at work-life balance feels completely unattainable at a time like this.
Everything is changing, continuously, and with it we must also make changes to continue to efficiently manage our teams. It’s hard, no doubt about it. But what’s harder is continuing to drive the same schedule and force yourself to be productive when you simply can’t, because the daredevil of your three children just learned to climb the kitchen bar stools or the intense silence of your new home office lacks the chatter of a motivating team member. There’s no wrong or right way to maintain life during a pandemic, but to keep some sanity while leading your team from home here are a few tips you can use to manage the madness.
Stop trying to wedge your normal work-life into your new chaotic home-life. It just won’t work! What a lot of people in quarantine are learning rather quickly is that burnout can happen before you know it. Working from home means you no longer have a morning drive-time, a friend lunch to catch or a reason to leave the office for a quick breath of fresh air. Everything in your day just runs together and suddenly you realize you’ve worked several hours more than you intended.
Identifying chunks of time within the day when you can be most productive is pivotal. If that happens to come at 9 p.m. after the children are asleep, so be it. We are literally in survival mode here, and as we’ve come to know all too well each day seems to bring new challenges or shifts in our processes. Being nimble with not only your strategies but also your work schedule is going to be the real make or break moment.
Create a Daily Huddle
If our team wasn’t utilizing the Slack platform to stay in contact throughout the day, this working from home life would be a lot harder to manage. Using a workspace app enables your team to remain connected, but it definitely identifies the void in face-to-face communication. Sometimes things are just easier spoken than typed into a message…though we all know millennials beg to differ.
Make sure to actively engage with your team in different ways that help them to still feel seen and part of the collective. Additionally, now that everyone is working on a very personalized schedule to get things done, daily check-ins will help mitigate any uncertainties. Depending on the size of your team, Zoom calls work great for a group or individual virtual meet-up. One rule we have made at Ghidotti is whenever you’re on a Zoom call you must show your face. Not only do we want to see each other’s faces, but we also want to see how our teammates are doing. Proving you are a compassionate leader through empowerment and encouragement is really the key to supporting your team through this time.
While on the phone with a client, my kids were loudly instructing each other on the rules of the new pillow fort, which quickly turned into an argument. Meanwhile, I’m trying to discuss project schedules and muting the phone every two minutes to tell them to be quiet. My client finally said, “You don’t have to mute me. I get it…it’s fine.” In the middle of all the chaos, her calm and non-judgemental words were just what I needed to hear.
If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it 1,000 times, we’re in this together. Kids are going to interrupt your Zoom, dogs are going to bark on your conference call … and you know what, it’s fine. You’re NOT the only one going through this, so don’t apologize for the uncontrollable things happening around you. Embrace the mess and go on. Your clients, teammates and the world will understand.
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It’s OK to Not Be OK
Give yourself a break! Everyone manages stress differently, but one thing we all have in common right now is that we are each developing an immense amount of self-awareness. Giving yourself and your teammates validation is one of the best things you can do during this time of pandemonium. F-e-e-l those feelings. Don’t waste time holding them back because truthfully they will just spill out anyway–and usually when you don’t really want them too.
Self-care has never been more crucial. With gyms, parks and all things recreation now closed, what’s there to do? Simple … walk the neighborhood while you’re listening to a podcast (great list collab from our team here), get into the car for a drive (that is still allowed) or just sit on the back porch and soak up the sunshine. You would be surprised how just a few minutes of reflection can impact your day. But also, if you need to sit on the couch and pop a box of chocolates for a time, no judgment. Just don’t live there. Make it a priority to move throughout the day and get your blood flowing. Creativity is more likely to stir up when your mind is clear of the clutter.
Balance or No Balance
Achieving a work-life balance has always been a challenge for many Americans. We pour our heart and soul into our careers because it’s where we spend most of our days.
Perhaps this is our time to find what balance means, but through a different lens, because one thing is for sure it will look nothing like we previously imagined. What’s important to remember is not to force it. There’s no sense in creating expectations that are unattainable; you’re simply setting yourself up for failure. Make a plan with a 100 percent guarantee that it will change. This way your brain is already set on the path for adaptation. Exponential growth in your leadership will come when you’ve worked toward living above your circumstances. Understand this is just another life season and this too shall pass. You’ve got this!