10 Tips for supportive professional engagement in the new normal
Even as we steadily crawl back to normalcy, adjusting to the new normal, the rules of engagement in interpersonal relationships, especially in a professional environment, seem to have changed. Once governed by strict HR policies and rigid corporate codes of conduct, the pandemic has forced businesses to adapt and reinvent their growth as well as employee engagement strategies. Due to decreased in-person interactions and the overall VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) environment, has led to stressed professional relationships. To address that, organizations are redefining policies and procedures and accelerating investments in new processes and technologies.
Given the stressed business scenario, it is natural for Business Executives, Middle managers, and Staff to react or take decisions based on insecurities and doubts. The tips, listed below, are personal experiences and insights which have been proven to help fight adversities. These tips, when implemented by businesses, can help create a harmonious working environment for its workforce during these challenging times.
- Do not compare: Comparing your business strategies, processes and goals with competitors may be counterintuitive and cause more mental stress than be productive. Do not compare your work projects/assignments with others. Have faith and trust that your business will grow on its own pace and that is perfectly alright.
- Take Ownership: When making decisions about initiatives or new processes or technologies, it is important to take ownership of those decisions. Take as much feedback as possible – from within and outside your organization, but treat all of it as mere inputs, as there would be many ideas and suggestions from various well-meaning people. In the end, you have to evaluate those and decide what is in the best interest for your company, clients, and employees.
- Diversity in the workplace is enriching: Build and leverage a diverse workforce. People from varied ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, and genders, help bring different perspectives to challenges and problems. Diverse workforces also bring a rich mix of talents and skill sets which can benefit your company’s capabilities for problem solving and driving innovation.
- Take balanced decisions: During these times of volatility, it is easy to be driven by insecure or negative emotions. One needs to make a balanced choice between the heart and the mind, the practical and emotional approach, when taking decisions related to new projects or any other business decision.
- Segregate independent and team projects: In today’s organizations, there are different types of assignments. However, not all may require a team involvement. Sometimes, independently executed projects work best when given to an able candidate. Learn to balance independent work culture and collaborative team projects, to ensure intelligent segregation of responsibility, minimise workload and ensure efficient delivery of results.
- Identify Fatigue: It’s natural that many employees will be overwhelmed and will experience fatigue. It could be a by-product of the multi-tasking that they have been handling, in personal and professional life. The fatigue should not be taken personally and allow for a supportive and empathetic environment to help them deal with it without being pushed to a burning point.
- Act from a place of empathy and drive the same: It is important to remember that each one of us have gone through multiple challenges in the past few months – from loss of a loved one, physical and mental health issues, health concerns of family members, financial strain, social isolation, business and employment uncertainty etc. When working on a project, or a professional assignment, a person may not react amicably to a challenge, never assume anything. And act from a place of empathy.
- Don’t play the victim: It is important to know that one has no choice but to play the hand you are dealt, not the hand you wish you had or think you deserve. In professional terms, it may mean the type of projects, budget constraints, expansion or career progression, etc. As they say, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. One cannot ‘play the victim’ beyond a certain time. It’s okay to pity yourself initially, but that has to stop quickly so one can slowly begin to accept the new reality and eventually the new normal.
- Making life smoother: It helps to create a positive environment for co-workers. Sharing information, being transparent and encouraging a collaborative approach to tasks can help build trust and create a close knit team of employees, who can bring varied skills and make a passionate attempt to every task.
- Leverage technology: Lastly, nothing beats enhancing productivity and making tasks easy, is leveraging cutting edge technologies like portals, digital platforms, remote desktops, audio/video conferencing, mobile first, simplified reporting tools etc.
The above can go a long way in ensuring your organization not only survives the crisis but thrives in it.