How Leaders Can Empower Employees During WFH Times of crises are the best to reiterate the importance of company's organizational values

By Sebi Joseph

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The ongoing pandemic is teaching leaders how to sustain the business remotely. The biggest challenge is in how to keep employees excited in the new ways of working: How do we help them build a positive view of the situation when everything around us seems uncertain? And most importantly, how do we get them to stay focused on the business, customers, products and services—all of which are crucial to business continuity? Here are some thoughts on how to help employees feel that we are all in this together.

Drive belief in the company's values

A lot of organizations are bound together by their shared beliefs and values. Times of crises are the best to reiterate the importance of company's organizational values. Demonstrating these values through actions and words—especially when the chips are down—will give employees a sense of oneness, washing positively over everyone, even though they are not physically together.

Turn to history to restore faith and beliefs

History books are rife with stories of struggles won by perseverance and sheer human will. It would do well to revisit those lessons with teams to help them know that together we can overcome. Closer to home, encourage employees by speaking of recent successes achieved through collaboration in moving the company ahead. This will help restore faith in the collective team's agility to surmount any challenges, and confidence in one's personal abilities, that has been shaken up due to lack of socialization. A company is only as good as its people.

Stay focused on the positive

It is easy to get sucked into the vortex of bad news being thrown up by the pandemic. However, it is important for all of us to focus on the positive lessons emerging out of the pandemic. This can enable employees to reflect on the business and themselves. With great crises come greater learnings and a leader's role is to help guide employees to value the journey of going through the storm. We need to reinforce that we cannot control what lies outside of ourselves but can work on what is on the inside and within our reach. That said, we will emerge stronger at the end of the storm.

Listen and show empathy

During these times, leaders should be open to hearing out people's challenges. Empathizing with employees will help build a sense of trust and facilitate resilience. We also need to communicate openly and frequently to let employees know the directions the organization is taking. This is a great way to let employees know what they need to do to keep contributing to the business. It will help give them a sense of purpose in knowing that they are contributing to a larger cause outside themselves. After all, man is a being in search of meaning.

Solicit employee feedback

Employee feedback mechanisms must be kept alive and channels must be widened given that people are not in the same space together. Employees' ideas and feedback is the capital that keeps an organization ticking. Companies can then use this feedback to alter how they engage and communicate with employees to develop a sense of oneness.

Give thanks

Last but not least, leaders must showcase and verbalize gratitude and not leave it to employees to assume that we are grateful for their work and dedication. This is a great time to also appreciate the families who now more than ever are supporting our colleagues as they give the organization their possible best while working from home. Gratitude practiced in a timely manner and not delayed goes a long distance. We must remember to celebrate life in all its forms.

These are incredulous times that call on leaders to completely reimagine how to lead teams as we move ahead. Leaders will need to revisit their roots, tap into their value systems, and go back to the basics. It is also important to instil courage and confidence in teams. Challenges will need to be revisited multiple times over before we can acquire clarity. We will have to embrace this process. Leadership will need to be more patient and persistent under the current circumstances. We will need to embrace that we can truly rise only by lifting others. Transcendental values of spirituality, love, sharing and trust will be required to thrive in the current times. With all this, I am sure this too shall pass.

Sebi Joseph

Sebi Joseph, President - OTIS India

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