The NEW Realities of Management and Leadership

Critical Topic Discussion Group: The NEW Realities of Management and Leadership May 27, 2020

Our latest session focused on the NEW Realities of Management and Leadership. The attendees were able to share and gain insights with other managers and leaders about the pivots and shifts they’ve had to make in managing their teams. Pleased to provide this summary of outcomes from the leaders who participated.

Lisa Arora from Get The Picture created a graphic recording of the discussion.

New realities of management

The participants discussed four questions. Below are the outcomes of their discussion.
Question 1: How are you aligning your staff to focus on collaborative outcomes when everyone is working different hours, remotely?

Pros

  • Not a barrier – staff are definitely working different hours (especially with young children) with different schedules, but people have worked it out.
  • Project by project, manager basis, not corporate led
  • 75% of staff working outside office. Most out of necessity with different pressures. Seemed to have worked out their own issues.
  • More fluid collaboration.
  • Pretty much the same as before. Same hours, same work, working from home instead.
  • Deadlines and deliverables don’t change in terms of timing.
  •  Organization across country is becoming more linked rather than just regionally.
  • Reduced spontaneity has helped with productivity.

Cons

  • Have to think ahead – how to work across time zones.
  • Working remotely, you don’t know if staff are around, on the phone, stepped away, etc. That connection part is more difficult.
  • Not getting the connectivity at the water cooler. People tend to jump right into work and less small talk.
  • The fluidity in person vs online. The amount of work and preparation going into meetings is 3 times in the virtual world. More contrived than a free flowing experience.
  • Challenging. Day 1 there was enthusiasm but not sure where they have got to. Loss of collaboration is noticeable.
  • Less off the cuff brainstorming (lost ability to overhear conversations). Loss of this has lost some coaching ability. (90% at home – some IT people in office, but only special permission).
  • Loss of spontaneity. Often now people are so booked in meetings, they aren’t available. The moment will pass and you’ll lose the opportunity.
  • Been using Facebook Workplace. Miss out on spontaneous connection. A lot more meetings seem to be occurring to accommodate loss.
Question 2: Three months into COVID-19, are staff being the same, less, or more productive? What differences have you seen in productivity?
  • More productive. Calendar did open up, but now it is filling in again. In the office 40+ hours a week because no travel to meetings. No interruptions so can produce more deliverables.
  • Tasks are pretty clear, have had to trust people more, but people are producing. Deliverables are coming in on time. We’ll see if we run into issues down the road.
  • Saving time on travel, less interruptions.
  • It does take discipline to work from home.
  • Very hard to measure staff deliverables but staff seem more productive.
  • It’s been a roller coaster ride, up and down, dramatically at the beginning. Some projects are coming in late, but due to circumstances, staff are trying their best. Lenience must be given.
  • Utilization hasn’t changed (which surprised people).
  • Increased productivity with clear focus and targets.
Question 3: New issues have arisen around staff accountability in a COVID-19 world. With no precedent for dealing with these types of situations, what have you found is working in the absence of proven policies?
  • Didn’t consider a policy in the early days, as not sure how long this would last. Now considering a policy. Mostly dealing with trust. Concern at start on trust but once executives saw utilization rates were the same, trust grew. Our group has been empathetic. Take each case one at a time and address them quickly.
  • Non-profit culture has enabled us to adapt well. Leadership prepared us to adapt and pivot.
  • At the start of the pandemic, communications were focused on profits. Managers had to mitigate that. But now people are working really hard, cancelling vacation (we’ve had to push people to take time off). Sick time has dropped as people are just working from home. We’ve developed work arounds and put a lot of trust in people.
  • At point now where we have to remind people to look after their mental health and physical well being. Encouraging people to take a few days off here and there.
  • Put a ban on over time. This is helping people to not work too much.
Question 4: Keeping up staff morale: What is working, what is not?
  • Doing weekly check ins with everyone.
  • Introduced a Red/Yellow/Green tool to see how people are feeling. If someone is feeling in the red, then we offer support systems.
  • Bi-weekly town hall meetings. Very open door. Executives have an open door booking period.
  • Trying to close every other Friday to get rest. Then alternate Fridays are Zoom Free.
  • Everyone needs something different. Different individual conversations but nothing formal.
  • Having coffees and socials, photo competitions. It helps to keep people connected beyond the few they work with on a daily basis.
  • Creating opportunities for a broader connection. Aware of some greater family issues (spouses losing jobs, etc.)

Special thanks to Lisa Arora from Get The Picture for creating our visual graphic recording of this session.  Get The Picture captures a group’s key ideas – in text, images and colours – in the moment, during a facilitated group discussion. Get The Picture is now serving the world virtually and visually for:

  • Designing effective, interactive virtual meetings.
  • Visually facilitating virtual meetings.
  • Visually recording virtual meetings with a facilitator of your choice.

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