Due to the 2019 pandemic, the entire world had to face a new reality and a new normal. This also meant that leaders need to find a way to align this new reality in relation to their followers. In this episode, Patrick Veroneau talks about how leaders need to align their behaviors and expectations with the new realities that everyone is facing. This is especially in relation to the new trend of working from home. How do we deal with this? As leaders, how do we become empathetic to the needs of our followers while driving productivity all the same? Find out more in this episode.
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The Danger Of Not Being Aligned With The Realities Facing Your Followers
In this episode, we’re going to talk about alignment as it relates to followers and leaders. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how leaders need to align their behaviors and expectations with the new realities that are facing those that they want to follow them. Let’s get into it. A lot of the work that I’ve done in terms of organizations, I’ve seen this in ramping up, especially where organizations are trying to get people back into a more normalized work environment. What we’re starting to see is there can be some real tension that is starting to build up. That’s because I believe that there are many leaders that are unaware of how their behaviors and expectations are not aligned with the new realities that are facing those that they need to follow them.
This is based on behaviors. If we think about all the different things that are going on within the life of an employee and not to say that this isn’t within the life of a leader as well, somebody that’s leading a team, but there were many different things. We talk about work, home, and the line being blurred. I would suggest that it’s not even a blurred line anymore. That line has been blown up. It doesn’t exist. In most people now working remotely, there is no line anymore. Work and home are the same place which can add their own stress. Financially, many individuals might be challenged with the security of their job. How secure is their current situation, their spouses, or their significant other? Maybe they’re with a company that is challenged themselves in regards to how the new realities of the economy we’re in has impacted their business, and they’re now needing to look to reducing overhead?Being able to recognize other people for what they're doing is important. Click To Tweet
I’ve worked with several organizations where I’ve been asked to come in because they’re going to be reducing their employee size and working with individuals to help them transition out of that, as well as working with those that are left behind managing. How do you help them to help those that are still around to have a sense of security and navigate this? I know one of the episodes that I spoke to before was around resilience. That is something that we’re going to see more of the need for understanding how do you develop resilience? Some other areas though that we’re challenged and we can think of individuals or people that have children at home. Their bandwidth has been stretched in terms of Wi-Fi. I know it has at our house, but also some of these individuals now are almost substitute teachers as well for their kids because they’re working remotely.
If you throw that into the mix, it adds another level of stress for individuals. Also, one of the things that we don’t hear much about is grief, that individuals are grieving right now. This isn’t about being weak and thinking, “You only grieve if you lose a loved one.” From an outside appearance, you can be the most rugged individual, but I guarantee you, they’re still grieving. That’s going on. It looks different in what we’re grieving could be different. It might not have been able to go to sporting events. That was a huge outlet for some people, and not having that ability to go to a sporting event has had a significant impact on them. Whether they know it or not, it certainly has.
Social events over the summer. People that have not had an opportunity to socialize, do cookouts, and outings with friends on larger scales. Those things play into it. People that love musicals, plays, or concerts, not being able to go to those impacts us. Not being able to travel, not being able to go to restaurants like you used to before because of all of these concerns, wearing masks, and separation that even when you go in there, there’s a different feel to it than you might normally have in terms of casually deciding you want to go out for dinner at the last minute. If we go back to work for a minute, we can think of new hires and how difficult that is.
If you think of trying to onboard as a new hire, how difficult that can be in terms of understanding the culture, what’s expected of me. That provides a lot of stress in regards to a new employee coming onboard and an organization that doesn’t have that same connection or ability to onboard the way they would have before the pandemic. All of these things play into the new realities that are facing all of us. If we don’t recognize those, align our behaviors and our expectations on those that are experiencing those things, we’re going to run into problems. Either disengagement or engagement that I’ve seen where it’s unproductive. It’s disruptive engagement, but both are challenging.
The question is, how do we deal with this? From an alignment standpoint, there were a number of behaviors that we can start to look at. Congruence is one. Am I in alignment? Is our company in alignment with our values? This is a great time to dust off the values and take a look at them and say, “On the decisions that we’re making, how we’re treating our employees, how I’m interacting with employees, how is it in alignment with our values?”
If we’re saying our employees are our most valuable asset, what are we doing? How are we supporting them if it’s around collaboration or integrity? Those are in our values. How are those playing out right now? It is an important time to take a look at our values, like if you’re out in the ocean and you’re in rough seas, you’re looking at your GPS to find out where your coordinates are, to get you to where you need to go. This is the same thing. Your values and your mission in this environment allow us to get back on track. We can use those as an opportunity to say, “How am I behaving? How are the decisions that I’m making and the interactions that I’m having? Are they in line with what our values are?”
Next is around appreciation and recognition. I did a workshop with a healthcare provider with a team. One of the individuals was talking about how another person on this team that at the end of every day, this person was going out of their way to thank this individual for the prep work that they were doing on the rooms that they had to go into. This individual said, “This is the first time that I’ve been with a group that there’s been that type of appreciation.” We overlook the little things and how important that can be because this took ten seconds for this person to say this. It was sincere. That mattered to this individual. In this time, the realities that we’re in, being able to recognize other people for what they’re doing is so important.
We need that. Next, we can think about connections and creating a sense of belongingness, even from a distance remotely, and how important that is for people to feel as though they are still part of a team. I had a question and it was talking about, “How do we maintain our culture remotely?” I say, “It’s very difficult to do that because you need to be in connection with people.” We need to be with people and it’s about behaviors that create the culture, not the words that we say our culture stands for. We need to get a hold of that. How do we create belongingness? Reaching out to people periodically, not on a specific schedule, but reaching out and asking people how are they doing? What do they need? That creates belongingness and an in-group.What somebody says and what they really might mean might not be the same thing. Click To Tweet
We need more of that nowadays. You’ll hear through many of the presentations and podcasts that I’ve done where I talk about the research around belongingness and how important that is. Listening is extremely important. I was in a workshop around conflict with a large organization where we are talking about how do we listen, especially when we’re challenged that it’s about listening for understanding, as opposed to listening to undermine.
There are a number of different ways that we can demonstrate our listening. Through Zoom with our eyes, it’s watching what other people were doing if we’re seeing them on the screen. It’s also important to listen with our ears. What are people saying? The tone of voice, the words that they’re using, and then facial expressions. What are they doing on the screen that we might be able to pick up on that it’s out of alignment? What they’re saying and what they’re feeling is not the same thing.
Two that I think are even more important in this environment where we have less face–to–face is listening with our mind, what somebody says and what they might mean might not be the same thing. A lot of people are dealing with a lot of stress and tension. If somebody is saying something out of frustration that they don’t mean, there’s something behind that. This is about pausing and rather than we react or we respond. We take a moment to think about, “What else is going on here?” It leads to the fourth type of listening that we can do.
This is about listening with our heart or listening with compassion. This is about listening to other people the way that we would want them to listen to us when they’re talking to us that, “I’m truly trying to understand where you’re coming from.” There was so much need for this now and the importance of it because people are facing a whole different set of realities. If we truly are listening to what’s going on, we’re going to make a greater connection with people and better communication.
Empathy stands by itself here. Demonstrating empathy to other people of thinking about the things that are going on. We’re all facing things that we’ve lost. Maybe it was a graduation that we didn’t get to go to, a birthday we didn’t get to celebrate, grandparents that aren’t able to see their grandkids, a trip that was canceled, and we don’t know when that’s going to happen. We all have these things going on. I was talking to one of the organizations that I was working with. She was talking about a nurse within the group that she had made plans with her to go on vacation to a Caribbean Island.
The director was struggling with this yet also was challenged with the idea that she said, “I know that this person is struggling right now because this person had two cruises that had already been canceled and had a wedding that had been postponed all because of this. This person was at their wit’s end and was struggling so much emotionally.” You need to step back and realize that somebody is going to act out in the way of like, “I’m going on vacation and you can write me up if you want,” but it speaks to the need for people to have some sanity in their lives or diversion when many things have knocked on their way, and we need to be empathetic to that.
Lastly, it is around clear expectations. What do we need from them each other? How are we going to navigate this situation? If there’s ever a time where we need to be even more clear in regards to what the expectations are, it’s in this environment where people are torn in different directions to have the ability to understand exactly how we’re going to navigate this new reality successfully. It’s important. “What do I need from you? What can you expect from me?” Even down to the meetings that we have. Oftentimes, we will see if those meetings are not organized well in terms of the time that the meeting is going to start. When it’s going to end that we stick to that timeline? That, “Here are the agenda items for this meeting, so we all know what we’re going to talk about.”
These are our little things but very important things in terms of setting clear expectations. We need to do that. If we’re going to align ourselves back with the new realities that are facing those people that we are expecting to follow us. This is about inspiring, empowering, and compelling those to follow us. That happens through our actions. When we look at inspiration, it’s about the, “I want to. I’ve behaved in ways that you say I want to follow where you’re going.” You get what’s going on right now. The empowered part is the employee that says, “I can do this. I have the support, direction, materials, and the resources that I need to do this.”
Lastly, the compelling part is that, “I want to do this. I will do this. I’m committed to this that’s because of the way you’ve treated me throughout this whole process. You have influenced me in a way that I’m committed to what we’re about here. I’m going to follow through on what I said. Not because I’m afraid that I’m going to be punished or penalized for not doing it, but internally, it’s because I want to do this for you, for the team, for this organization, I’m going to do this.”
I hope this has been helpful to you and valuable. It’s something that I continue to see as a theme here around a challenge to become aligned with how I behave and what I expect as it relates to the new realities that we’re all facing. Those things need to come into alignment. Things have changed. As I continue to say on the posts and on social media outlets that I present to, “We can do better. We need to do better.” I hope you were able to go out there and take a look at your own behaviors and expectations of those that are around you. You can ask yourself, “Are they in alignment with the new situation and new realities that we’re in?” Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best. Peace.
- Resilience – Previous episode