As companies deal with COVID-19 and the potential economic ramifications of the pandemic, tremendous pressure is on IT organizations to assure business continuity. Technology is a critical component of everyone’s ability to remain as functional as possible throughout this challenging time and many businesses that may not have had reason to engage in remote work are now rushing to adapt. But we believe it’s equally important to keep the human element in mind throughout situations such as these, not just with regards to the team’s physical health, but mental health.
As a leader, you may be asking yourself, “What’s the best way to guide my team through this disruptive time?” Your honest concern for those that you manage is a great place to begin. An authentic leader cultivates conversations with their team to keep pulse on what is important to each individual. This insight, if born from a genuine place, naturally helps tune the team culture to one of trust. The outcome is a shared dedication to achieve the greater business priorities.
Years ago, I worked for an organization in which the President changed every two years. During one of those periods, a dynamic executive took the helm. She was incredibly successful in her career, was well known, and highly regarded in the industry. What was most striking was her leadership style. For all of her accomplishments she always made time to stop and engage personally with the staff. Regardless of position, she had sincere interest in the stories of everyone around her. Her down-to-earth persona was compelling. The staff was energized under her leadership and it proved to be an innovative and highly productive time for the company.
Understanding what makes each person motivated as well as what can be un-motivating could not be more relevant than during exceptional circumstances such as we find ourselves in today. While we may be separated physically, there are simple ways in which the team can be supported to stay positively and productively engaged:
A position of hope. Not everyone is going to react in the same manner. While some of the team may enjoy the opportunity to skip a long commute into the office every day, others may find the break in routine disconcerting. The first step in coalescing the team is to underscore the truth that this will not last forever and that even if the world re-emerges a bit differently, there is no doubt we will all rise together to find some good in it. Be the leader that emanates “hope springs eternal.”
Make 1:1 time for the team. A check in on each team member is necessary when working remote. Not only is it an opportunity for you to keep up on the work activities of the team as a whole, but it’s how you can ensure each individual is doing okay, that they have a safe space to share their concerns, that they have what they need to be productive, and that we are all still connected and marching towards the same mission.
Virtual collaboration tools rule. Never has there been a time where collaborating digitally has been so critical to so wide a range of people. There are many tools available in the market that enable you to interact online; if your company has one, now is the time to use it. Phone calls are one thing, but the ability to open meetings and conversations onscreen can bring you and your team virtually face-to-face. If you have the ability, turn on your video, you look fine! For a few simple tips on making the most of remote work tools, check out this piece from my colleague, Jim McHugh!
Virtual social time. Miss running into your co-workers in the coffee room? Need a break at lunch to chat with a colleague? Do it over Skype, WebEx, or whatever tool your organization uses. Take a 5-minute water-cooler break on video and have a little human-to-human time during the day.
Don’t forget yourself. Your team needs you, make sure to take a pause in your day and care for yourself. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is stressful for you too. Find balance in a quiet moment, read a chapter in a favorite book, or call an old friend; it’s time well-spent in order to maintain your own health.
It’s important when building your business resiliency plan that you consider operations with not just technology, but also human resiliency at the core. At TenFour we are committed to work with our customers to support the technology services that will keep their organizations humming even in these extreme circumstances. However, equally top-of-mind is to make sure that the human element is cared for, both within our TenFour family and with our amazing customers for whom we serve as their extended team.
As you gear up your remote workforce in the coming weeks, we encourage you to remember that your employees and colleagues are more than the work-role that they play; each has worries and concerns for their friends, family, and for themselves. Each of us may react differently, but what we have in common is that we are social creatures. Reach out, check in, and share. Use technology to keep connected digitally and use your human compassion to lead your teams safely through!
This article was originally published on April 2, 2020 on the TenFour Blog at https://tenfour.com/blogsource/empowering-your-it-team-to-fight-past-adversity.
With over 20 years of experience in leadership roles in the technology industry, Ms. Carroll is recognized as an executive who develops and articulates vision and solutions from both technical and business perspectives. She has an established history of building a culture of collaboration, trust, and respect among IT and the business. A speaker on the topics of digital transformation, cloud computing, IT utility adoption, and team culture, she has been published in CIOInsight and BizTech magazine, and was named a 2010 Computer World Premier 100 IT Leader. She is committed to sharing, listening, challenging, and shaping the discussion around transformational business success.
Currently Ms. Carroll serves as the VP, Customer Success & Lifecycle at TenFour, a NJ headquartered IT Infrastructure Utility Provider. In this role, she leverages her industry expertise to provide insight and guidance to enterprise business executives to facilitate digital transformation and business value realization. She is responsible for creating a differentiated customer experience across the breadth of TenFour’s client portfolio, focused on the customer’s business priorities and outstanding service delivery. Prior to joining TenFour, Ms. Carroll had a noteworthy tenure in a variety of senior IT Leadership positions at the United States Golf Association, most recently as the Managing Director for Information Technology where she led the infrastructure, business resilience, security, operations, and development disciplines.