Create Temporary Structures, Keep the End in Mind

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This is week 3 for many of you. This Monday marks the beginning of the third week of living and interacting in a very new reality. You have likely, in weeks 1 and 2, made sure that your employees have access to the internet at home, know what shared tools will be used to communicate, and assigned short-term projects that can be completed away from your typical work environment. You have also, hopefully, exhaled.

In parallel, this is also the week when many are starting to experience personal losses due to the Coronavirus of family or friends. If this is the case for you, please know that I extend my heartfelt condolences.

In the midst of all that has happened and is happening, I encourage you to focus your energy with the end in mind. What do we want to be the experiences, the lessons learned, the triumphs that we take from this difficult time?

You've already learned that working from home takes a very different type of energy. As we are transitioning to virtual, many of us are using video calls for every communication, we’re feeling overwhelmed by the volume of communication, and we’re trying to find meaningful work for ourselves and others.

For those of you who are leaders, managers, and supervisors, this is the week when you need to begin building temporary structures.

Given the news that national social distancing guidelines have been extended until April 30, start thinking about how you are going to sustain this virtual reality for the next 4-6 weeks, at least. It's going to be important for teams to have agreements about how they will manage in this new environment. This is the perfect opportunity for senior leaders and HR to enlist managers and supervisors to identify norms (for meetings, scheduling, taking breaks, etc) that can be applied across the organization. It’s not enough for each team or unit to have norms, particularly for those who have multiple reporting lines or are cross-functional obligations.

An example of organization-wide agreements could include, for example:

  • use shared calendar to schedule meetings
  • avoid/minimize impromptu calls
  • insert 3-hour blocks (maybe 2x/week), for no meetings
  •  Zoom or video calls for groups of 3 or more or as needed; not necessary for every interaction
  • accompany group video meetings with tools for alternative forms of sharing (like google docs)
  • send emails during (insert) hours only
  • encourage people to be productive during times that are most appropriate for them, not necessarily normal business hours

In addition, you’ll also be thinking about service continuity and providing support for staff during this changing environment.

Please check out our array of virtual offerings, many of them timely and starting soon. Remember, leadership is often about how we handle the tough stuff. Let’s do this as well as possible.

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DeEtta Jones & Associates (DJA) guides leaders and organizations on a journey that builds capacity, strengthens innovation, and increases organizational performance by creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

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