Ira M. Gostin: Embracing the new normal in Northern Nevada (Voices)
Special to the NNBW
We are in unprecedented times with the current COVID-19 pandemic. As entrepreneurs and business leaders, our focus is split in two — trying to run our businesses while at the same time caring for and worrying about the health and safety of our family and friends.
And there’s no magic answer or template to guide us. So how as business leaders do we succeed and continue to be optimistic while continuously juggling the needs of both groups?
Let’s look at five ways that business owners and entrepreneurs can successfully lead their teams through this pandemic.
1. Understand their needs
Our modern-day workforce is composed of a variety of generations. The first thing you need to do is understand what is the makeup of your team. Who is able to work autonomously? Who needs more supervision?
Are you giving each member of your internal team the attention they need? Or just the attention you think they need? These are all questions you should be asking right away.
2. How does your team process information?
Another area that ties directly to this is learning domains. Everyone absorbs and processes information differently. Verbal, audible, visual, tactical are all ways that information can be received and processed by the recipient.
The importance of this knowledge will lead to the retention of the information being presented. Sending an email might not be enough for an employee who is already feeling isolated.
I do a lot of Zoom calls now, as opposed to just the phone, and I am finding that the level of engagement and the retention of information is much greater because of the multiple mediums involved in a video call.
3. Check-in vs. micromanaging
What is your system to replace stopping by someone’s desk and asking, “how’s it going?” Too many check-ins and you can create disengagement as the employee feels micromanaged.
However, by following a Servant Leadership principle of “How may I help you?”, you are able to engage with the employee in a non-threatening manner.
4. Are there clear expectations?
One area that can easily go awry is what the business expectations are. Ensuring that your full-time employees put in their 40 hours becomes extremely important to your bottom line.
One way to ensure that productivity is at its best, is to ensure that the overall goal and expectations have been clearly communicated moving forward. When one member of the team loses sight of the specific objective, it could easily force a downward spiral that hurts all parties involved.
5. Overcoming isolation
Overcoming isolation and keeping your team engaged is the most important factor for the leader. Have fun. Maybe it’s as simple as a pizza party where you send small pizzas to each employee and then hop on zoom for a no-work lunch.
Maybe’s it’s a weekly coffee meeting for 20 minutes where everyone brings their favorite hot beverage and shares what they are drinking. These are in addition to any work or project related calls.
Remember, nothing replaces the boss picking up the phone and asking, “How can I help you?”
In conclusion, it has to fall on your shoulders to be the boss, regardless of your own fears and insecurities.
Keep your team informed — they will reward you with the high level of work you require from them. At the point where things return to some measured sense of security and normalcy, you and your team will be that much farther ahead with the ability to effectively work together or remotely.
Ira M. Gostin, MBA, APR, is a Reno resident and strategic consultant specializing in communications, marketing and stakeholder engagement for initial companies.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.