Although we may be beginning to shift from an isolated, COVID-19 environment and back into work, organizations will not simply go back to what was considered “normal.” The past year of uncertainty and change will continue to impact team members in the workplace and will require thoughtful, intentional leadership to guide this transitioning workforce.
Providing Safe Spaces
The past year brought with it an inordinate amount of uncertainty and, for many people–fear. To meet the needs of team members re-entering the work environment, leaders must consider the feelings of their people and create the safe spaces needed to accommodate the emotions they will be bringing back with them. This safe space is not just about physical safety but also about creating a space that provides for mental and emotional safety, as well. It requires a space that allows for expression about new challenges and fears, including the challenges they face with childcare and meeting the demands of helping their children with virtual schooling while juggling work and other responsibilities.
For leaders to effectively navigate these changes, they must engage in conversation about what this safe space comprises and recognize that the unprecedented challenges from the past year did not simply go away. The leaders that emerge effective in this transition will acknowledge that their team members have been through a great deal of stress and find ways to create the safe space needed to encourage open conversations and support.
Creating Transparent Engagement
Throughout this transition to a hybrid approach for organizations, the most significant results have been accomplished by organizations committed to having open, transparent conversations and engagement with their teams. Transparent engagement involves talking about everything, even when the answers may be completely unknown, and the outcomes are just as uncertain. In these unprecedented times, everyone understands that these are uncharted waters and that the leader does not have all of the answers. Still, it is crucial that the members of the organization hear from you–the leader.
In times of uncertainty, the organization members are craving information, and if they do not hear from the leader, they will fill in the blanks from some other source. Stop and think for just a minute, whom would you rather they glean their information from–you or an inaccurate outside source? Your team members will appreciate hearing from you, and in this time of significant change, they understand that you will have to monitor and adjust.
Fostering Diversity of Thought
Diversity of thought on a team teaches the members to view challenges from different vantage points and allows them to see opportunities they may have missed if everyone had similar backgrounds and life experiences. Recent events have shifted diversity of thought from simply a buzzword to part of our new reality that must be promoted and embraced. Throughout this pandemic, female leadership and female-centric leadership attributes have worked quite effectively in this uncertain environment. This past year has also brimmed with social and economic challenges that rose to the forefront with Black and Brown people standing up and saying enough is enough.
With women and minorities dominating many of the changes experienced, it is not enough to place a phrase or a black square on your Instagram. Leaders must find ways to showcase that diversity of thought is a priority and that it is not just symbolized, but that it actually occurs and is a vital piece of the culture. Influential leaders do not seek sameness–they pursue excellence.
Designing an Equitable Workforce
The new normal is bringing about a new business code that centers around designing an equitable workforce. This new code comprises the Men’s Code which has been the traditional business model that revolved around powers of persuasion, winning strategies, physical strength, and generally accomplishing tasks in a man’s kind of way. What this traditional code had been missing is the Women’s Code, which focuses on the female-centric principles of leadership, including community collaboration and empowerment.
The goal is not to have one or the other, but rather to create a new business code that successfully merges the Men’s and Women’s code to achieve a unisex business code. To be successful in this new, emerging hybrid workforce, it will be vital for leaders to design a business code that values an equitable workforce.
Beate Chelette is The Growth Architect & Founder of The Women’s Code, a training company specialized in providing companies an ROI on Balanced Leadership. She has been named one of 50 must-follow women entrepreneurs by the Huffington Post. A first-generation immigrant who found herself $135,000 in debt as a single parent, she bootstrapped her passion for photography into a highly successful global business and eventually sold it to Bill Gates in a multimillion-dollar deal.
Beate works with business leaders and supports organizations by developing and providing training the training, tools, and expertise to create and maintain a balanced, equal, and inclusive work environment that fosters creativity, employee engagement, and corporate growth.
Recent clients include Merck, Women’s Legislative Caucus of California, Cal State University Dominguez Hills, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), NFTE, CreativeLive, the Association of Corporate Growth, and TracyLocke.
Beate is the author of the #1 International Amazon Bestseller “Happy Woman Happy World – How to Go From Overwhelmed to Awesome” a book that corporate trainer and best-selling author Brian Tracy calls “a handbook for every woman who wants health, success and a fulfilling career.
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