Recently I attended the Women in Leadership panel at the American Manufacturing Summit. The panel included senior leaders from Caterpillar, Cummins, The Boeing Company, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Philips, and Johnson & Johnson.The conversation focused on sharing personal experiences - both accomplishments and challenges - about being a woman and an executive in male-dominated industries.
In our series on preparing for return to office (RTO) and hybrid work arrangements, we have focused primarily on what organizations and leaders need to consider in making these arrangements successful. However, at the end of the day, the success of these transitions ultimately depends on how all employees—regardless of title or position—are able to be engaged, safe, productive, and successful.
While it’s clear how expectations, processes, and support structures—put in place by organizations and leaders—have a huge impact on how the change to a hybrid work environment happens, there is actually a lot each employee can do to prepare for the transition and own some of that success.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
I’m sure we’ve all heard this quote before. But at no time did it ring truer to me than now. Before the pandemic, communication was routinely one of the biggest challenges of any transformation—or rather, the inconsistency, ineffectiveness, or complete absence of any given communication. But now we live in a time where ensuring timely, effective communication is concurrently easier (through technology) and more difficult (through remote work) than ever before.
On that backdrop we are now tasked with one of the trickiest transformations yet: the Return to Office (RTO). Whatever your model will look like—all virtual, hybrid, a mix depending on role—the transition will be difficult. What’s making it even more difficult is the fact that right now we can’t say for sure if the new ways of working will stick, or if once we’ve made the move, we’ll just have to return to virtual work in the near future.
If you’re a people leader, the past year hasn’t been easy. While the pandemic strained supply chains, changed consumer and customer needs, and put into question strategic growth plans, it also put a spotlight onto new employee needs around wellbeing and engagement. All of these topics have one thing in common: You, as a leader, are tasked with adapting to all these challenges and making the most of these changes. While many initially thought these shifts might be temporary, the reality has set in that they may be here to stay—and that more changes are on the horizon.
When the pandemic forced us all to move into virtual work environments, there was one topic that immediately worried leaders and employees alike: How do we keep our company culture going strong? How can we ensure that we don’t lose the culture that keeps us all connected? While a valid question, for many it never truly was resolved. The demands of focusing on emergency response plans, moving the entire company to a virtual model, and dealing with supply chain issues—among many others—caused a focus on firefighting and surviving.
It’s approaching two years since the pandemic forcefully transformed our lives. For most of us, it was an abrupt transition from customary ways of working to a virtual work environment. There was no alternative – we had to figure it out and make it work.
Ultimately, we realized that working remotely fit many people pretty well, driving higher-than-expected engagement numbers and keeping productivity high after the initial shock.
Fast forward to today. We’re still dealing with the pandemic, but businesses are realizing that it’s time to redirect their organizations for positive growth. There is renewed hope that we will overcome this virus – or at least get better at living with it. The show must go on, and we can’t be in “emergency mode” forever.
Recently I moderated the virtual Women in Leadership panel at the American Biomanufacturing Summit. This was my second time moderating this panel virtually, and I continue to be amazed by the richness of the conversation—despite being unable to meet face-to-face. The panel included senior female leaders of Acceleron, Genentech, Novartis, Roche, and Sobi, each having rich experiences to share.
Before you can drive positive engagement behaviors, it's critical to understand what those look like for your teams. As companies forge ahead with new work environments, new communication tools and new technologies, it's more important than ever for everyone in the organization to have clarity.
What 'good' looks like may be different depending on what part of the organization you are engaging. So if working with accounting the desired behavior may look different than working with customer service.
Having clear definition, consistency and reinforcement is an important step for leaders to further positive engagement in an organization.
In this video ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., provides steps leaders can take to help drive positive engagement behaviors throughout the organization.
Being successful in complex and chaotic times takes a leader who understands it's the environment created that is the driving force. One of the most challenging parts of this crisis is that there is no perfect plan to help guide and reenergize an organization.
However, leaders who remain focused on their teams and finding the right balance between engagement and results will be best positioned to be successful.
In the following video, ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., suggests important steps for leaders to take in order to engage their teams, while still driving success for the organization.
Lately it feels like every time you ask someone "how are you doing?" we are all waiting for the perfunctory answer of "I'm fine" or "I'm doing ok". In reality we all know that the last year has had a negative impact on many of our work experiences and our daily lives.
When the pandemic started, many organizations and teams quickly pivoted to new work environments, new ways of engaging, embraced new technology and dealt with a whole new set of challenges. While these changes were quick to be embraced, the uncertainty of how or when they may or may not change are taking a toll.
As leaders it's important for you to identify symptoms of Uncertainty Fatigue and bring about ways to help employees manage through it.
ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., provides insights for leaders to assist employees in combating Uncertainty Fatigue while encouraging critical engagement behaviors.