I was delivering a session on Communication in Leadership recently and I’d asked the group a question about the link between communication and connectivity. One of the participants gave me a response that got my brain ticking. He said ‘we did so many great things during Covid for connectivity and communication with our team – but we are letting them slip again now, we aren’t giving them the focus we did then. Why are we doing that?’
In the height of COVID, good leaders became ultra-aware of the need for powerful, meaningful, consistent communication. They got their people onto teams chats; held zoom meetings, and sent out weekly if not daily updates on what was happening. Some (including me) made a really conscious effort to make sure personal connections were made even though we were remote – hosting online games, organising take out dinners on the same night and seeing each other online, having twice daily online ‘huddles’. But a lot (including me I’m sad to say), have let that effort and intensity slide now that we feel like things are getting back to ‘normal’.
In fact, work and life are getting so busy that sometimes it feels like we’ve taken a backwards step as we try to keep up with the increased demand as the economy ramps up.
And that is just such a shame.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Gallup workplace science writer, Ryan Pendell points out, “Employee engagement in the U.S. rose at the start of the pandemic, when employers decided to communicate, listen, and offer support and flexibility to workers. As the percentage of employees who feel that their employer cares about their wellbeing has plummeted, the consequences reach beyond the absence of warm feelings. They include lower engagement, higher burnout, and more employees looking for new job opportunities elsewhere.”
So thank you to the insightful gentleman who gave me pause to reflect. It reminded me that the need for connectivity and communication and effective leadership never stops. We don’t get to say ‘job done’, because there is always new things to communicate, connections to reinforce, and people don’t suddenly stop needing or wanting leadership just because times are ‘normal’.
I’m not saying we need to put ourselves under the same intense pressure as what we had in 2020; but we should certainly take in the lessons from that time and make sure we don’t lose what we learned.