The last six (6) weeks has been a busy time for us as an organization. It has also been a time of growth and learning for me as a leader. As a company we at BLU Networks Consultancy Limited are accustomed to working remotely, but I kid you not, this time it was different.
As a Team, we were all stretched during this period. My greatest learning came at exactly one (1) month into the lockdown period. We were doing well, everyone seemed happy, but I could have seen the effects of the lockdown on the Team. I took some advice from my business coach and I scheduled a thirty (30) minute Mental Health sessions with each Team member. This was a very enlightening experience.
The sessions were all held on Microsoft Teams and they were each based on having an impromptu and honest discussion with each Team member. To ensure that I at least had some consistency in our discussions, all the sessions were based on three questions:
- How has the time working remotely been so far?
- What has been your biggest challenge?
- What can we do better?
The answers to these questions and the discussions around them brought the following realizations / learnings.
- Everyone on our team, though we work towards a common result; we are all different individuals. The older Team members were all accustomed to working remotely so there was not much of a shift there, but we had two new members that struggled a bit with the unfamiliar environment. Their struggles were related to them not having built an understanding of our culture and how we work due to their very brief time in the organization. This drastically affected their expectations, primarily because they had none, or they did not have the time to build any baseline of what to expect. This also affected their output.
- We had built a rhythm working as a team, sometimes remotely but more so physically in the office space. The lockdown did require an adjustment, and everyone will handle that adjustment differently. This difference was clear during the period and in our discussions.
- Our normal measurement of productivity needed to change. Working from home introduced many variables. In some cases, the entire family was home, and this brought with it its own challenges, forcing us to be a lot more flexible with work and expectations.
- Workloads increased and we were working more hours in the day. This took a tool on some of us over the period. We needed to work hard at managing that while delivering to the customer and at times having to also manage their expectations.
- As a leader, my input as it relates to employee mentoring and coaching is necessary. It was even more necessary at a time like this. At times I let the timelines and drive to deliver get in the way of providing that to my Team. I had no idea how this affected them until we had these thirty (30) minute sessions.
During this period, I have seen my Team stretched to some new limits, both physically and emotionally. I thank God every day for their support and the effort that they put into everything that they do. I also know that this would have been for me one of the most difficult periods as a leader, primarily because this period required a lot more mentorship, vigilance, and guidance. This is something that I honestly underestimated during this period. I let the operations, deadlines and the environment get the better of my focus.
Technology is what we do, one may think that during the Pandemic, our challenges may have been more technological, but they were not. Managing the emotions, families, variables, expectations of the Team and balancing that with the customer was the major challenge for me.
Sometimes Growth Happens When You Least Expect it. I really appreciate the lessons learnt during this period. I really appreciate my Team.