Change. It’s been quite a year. A pandemic, economic uncertainty and technology changing at the speed of light. Change can be exhilarating but continual change can create anxiety and eventually health issues like burnout and depression. How can you as a manager support the complex and varied needs of your team during this tumultuous time?

Keep talking

Talk to your team more than you think you need to. Teams that talk less experience increased feelings of isolation and anxiety. Obviously tell your team about any company changes and updates, inform them about any changes to your flexible working policies and what the implications are. Help your team to prioritise their workload and understand where the ‘give’ is in your team’s agenda. Support a culture of teamwork and collaboration. Give feedback in a timely manner. Develop a culture of praise, use appreciate enquiry where you can [1]

Be available for your team as much as possible.

Be vulnerable

If you can be vulnerable with the team or individuals about your own wellbeing it will build trust. Being open helps us to develop and deepen relationships. Be sure to only share what you feel comfortable with sharing there is no obligation for you or others to ‘over share’ [2]

Check-in with each other

Don’t view it as yet another Zoom meeting…checking in with individuals and teams is critical, do it regularly and with commitment. It’s not always easy to tell if someone is struggling, especially remotely. You can start with ‘How are you?’ but don’t end there…really listen and understand the response, ask follow up questions that show that you’re listening and really care. Make it a proper conversation. If you think that someone is struggling be compassionate, let them share what they want to. Sometimes just to talk is enough other times you may need to ‘signpost’ them to other specialists. The important thing to know is that a) Being heard is very powerful and b) You don’t need to know all of the answers, get help with signposting if you need it.

Be flexible

Keep an open mind about what your team members need, they’re all individuals and will have different needs at different times. Some may be feeling that they can’t ‘switch off and others may be experiencing difficulties with the team dynamics. Be as flexible and accommodating as you can, this doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards. Flexibility is often highly valued and when people feel valued they can thrive. Ask your team members what they need, you may be surprised by the results. Promote a culture of open dialogue and involve employees in decisions about how the team is run and how they do their job. Setting this example in your team won’t be forgotten and supports a culture of flexibility and common humanity. [3]

Role model the behaviours you’d like to see

When you role model healthy behaviours it sends a strong message to the team. Managing your own wellbeing allows them to manage theirs, setting your own boundaries allows them to set theirs (not working weekends for example) Don’t forget the impact that your behaviour will have. Let people know that you’re logging off at 5.30 pm or that you will be at the gym from 1-2 pm. Encourage staff to work reasonable hours, take a lunch break, keep fit, take annual leave, rest and recuperate after busy periods, sickness absence will reduce as a result. Role modelling is powerful (and it ensures that you are taking care of yourself too).

Send a clear message to your staff that their wellbeing matters. See whether you can action some of the ideas from the 5 steps above. Adapt them to suit your own team’s needs. You might just create a culture that is open, healthy, trusting and really supportive of the wellbeing of your team.

[1] Appreciative enquiry

[2] Vulnerability Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability

[3] Common humanity. Dr Kristen Neff

Read more about Janette Kirk-Willis and her other articles HERE


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