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The Three C's of Leading Through Uncertain Times

Posted by Simon Thiessen on 21-May-2020 14:28:13

uncertainty ahead Leading through this current Covid-19 period of time is certainly something we don’t have a blueprint for.

Last week we filmed a video around the Three C's - if you are not a part of our email network you can view the video here.
We decided to follow the video up with this blog discussing three critical things people need from their leaders, really at any time, but especially in times of great uncertainty and change.

By now, people have settled into some sort of rhythm following the dramatic recent workplace changes, and potentially they're starting to hit that point where at first they worked through it sterically, it was new, they found ways to respond. But now it's sort of starting to drag.
It’s at this time they need specific things from their leaders in order to work through times like this most effectively. They need Three C's from their Leaders;


clarity-11. CLARITY
The reality is that clarity is the number one thing that people respond to in a workplace. Even in normal times, in order to perform at a high level, clarity simply means that people know exactly what is expected of them.
Now, of course, in times of change where there is a lot of disruption and uncertainty, clarity is even more important because people are less clear today than they have been for a long, long time.

Often, roles will have changed, expectations will have changed, things that used to be priorities are no longer priorities and things that weren't thought of six weeks ago, are now really high on the agenda. Sometimes even the way people need to interact with other areas other departments has changed. Expectations have absolutely changed, working situations have changed.

One of your key roles now as a leader is to carve some clarity out of that situation for your people. The way to do that is to make sure that they're still clear on exactly what their key priorities are, and also what success looks like.

How do you do this?
There is a number of ways you can help people understand their key priorities:
- Regular Meetings (particularly if you’re now working remotely).
These meetings are where you establish and revisit the top two, three, maybe four priorities for each person. I'd suggest you do these individually.
Once you've established what their priorities are, really check in with them to see how they're going on those, what assistance they need, what obstacles they're hitting. Remember your job isn't to make sure they're working hard - your job is to remove as many obstacles as possible, that prevent them getting the outcomes that you need.
Give them plenty of feedback because they need to know what success looks like. Feedback can be what is it that they should be focusing on, what is it that thye should be doing now. How do they know they are succeeding?
This is clarity.
And it's the number one thing you can give to your people.

communication final 2. COMMUNICATION
Every organization I ever go into, there is a gap in the perceptions about how communication works. On the one hand, management feel like they're communicating a lot. On the other hand, team members feel there's not enough communication.

What that tells me is there's such a high need for communication, that it is really hard to meet that expectation and all leaders can do is do their best and accept that communication will never be perfect but use strategies to make it as good as possible.

That's now intensified multiple times, because the need for communication at the moment is significantly higher. People feel insecure, they feel uncertain, they feel out of the loop. They might be sitting at home in the spare bedroom, working away wondering what's happening with the rest of the organization, wondering what's happening with the rest of the team.
I'm very keen to see leaders spend a disproportionate amount of their time communicating. If that means you spend a lot of time communicating and not much time doing stuff that allows the rest of your team to be highly effective, then I call that a win.
A strategy I use personally, is to use videos. I'll send out short, regular, very honest updates to people and I'll include a link to a video. Around half the team will watch the video and around half the team will just read the email - some do both. But what I'm trying to cater for the different ways that they'll absorb it. During times of crisis you will find your people need multiple communication channels to absorb the same message you are trying to convey.

I mentioned being really honest in our updates. I think now more than ever, if you don't know - you need to tell them.
I like to tell my team what I do know is happening, what I'm not sure about, and what I'm uncertain about, and then how I'm going about bringing some certainty to that. In that communication, I like them to know I've got their back and I'm fighting for them. This is because if they know I've got their back, they can safely go out and face the tasks that I want them to do and they’re not looking over their shoulder - they know I'm looking after that platform.

connection final -13. CONNECTION
If you think about our societies, we cluster. We overpopulate small areas of land and lay vast areas unpopulated because by nature, we come together. We are social creatures who like to be in groups, who like to belong. Right now, people are missing that sense of belonging -that sense of connectivity. I recommend you take some time in your workdays, in your work weeks to bring back that connectivity. A simple strategy that I use is we have a daily meeting to start each day. It's a 15 minute check in, very little work is done. It's it's like arriving at work each morning and people stopping at someone's desk to have a chat and ask “Did you see such and such a show last night” or “What did you do on the weekend?”
We have about a 15 minute chat just to connect to have a laugh. To help that along we actually give each of the days a week a theme:

  • Five question quiz set by a different team member each week
  • Joke day (every team member tells a joke)
  • Confessions Day (first ever album you owned, favorite movie)
  • Favorite Quote Day

    You can choose whatever topics, they're really just designed to help us connect as human beings because now more than ever more, we need that.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    So these are The Three C’s. If you as a leader can build these into the environment for your people, you will find these are three things that your people are screaming out for in order to perform at a high level.

    I know that right now, if you've got people working remotely, you can't necessarily see what they're doing and what they're working on. I'm not a big believer in monitoring people. I feel what they need from us are the three C's and they need trust. So what we need to do is give them the credit for the job they are doing, we need to connect them, we need to communicate with them. Then we need to trust them to get on with their work, rather than over monitor and worry about what they're doing when we can't see them.

    I hope you are able to apply The Three C’s, and as always, if you feel that there are things you would like to discuss further with me, please reach out here. I'm always happy to answer your questions.

    All the best.
    Simon Thiessen
    CEO Real Learning Experience



Topics: Leadership, Team Development, Covid-19, change management, leading through change, leading through crisis, communication, commitment, leading through uncertain times, clarity