Coronavirus, Day Twenty-One

Is your business operating? What does your company morale feel like? What steps are you taking to keep employees engaged and productive?

The current business climate is challenging. Business owners and entrepreneurs are having to tread lightly and balance keeping their businesses afloat and revenue generating while considering the well-being of those around them. In order to do this, many of us need employees and team members to trust in us. As leaders, we have to seriously consider what the correct decisions are. What work is appropriate while ensuring our entities are offering proper personal protection opportunities. The CDC has published a site of guidelines for businesses and employers to follow in order to maintain the safest workplace possible. Much of this is good procedure to adhere to in general, however we must make an active effort to be more cognizant of sanitation best practices as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic together. Some of the basics include washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, cleaning work surfaces, and ensuring sick employees stay home. Take the time to read the full list, it is not exhaustive, but it is thorough.  

Alongside proper protective measures for your employees on the front lines, entrepreneurs, business owners, managers, and leaders should all put a laser focus on making sure team members and staff feel appreciated.  Take the time to invest in scheduled calls, hold on-site conversations (maintaining social distancing guidelines of course), check in with the men and women in the field throughout the day. Ask questions. Listen to their pain points. Do what you can to make their jobs easier as we traverse this unfamiliar landscape. It may not be all physical either. The LA Times published an article by Brittny Mejia titled, “L.A. suicide hotline sees rise in coronavirus-related calls. Counselors feel the pain.” Within the article Ms. Mejia discusses how the boundless limits of the Coronavirus begin to negatively affect the counselors who normally have experience and methods to help others. This rise in calls is different, because no one has proven methods and many of the counselors are experiencing similar anxiety within their own lives and families. The fear is that the Coronavirus pandemic will push those people already coping with mental health issues further into a danger zone of bad decisions or life altering choices. 

If your team members, employees, or staff are to this point, you should seek professional help for them. However, the more typical experience may just be basic needs.  Concerns about running low on certain supplies or how to handle ambiguity of their assignments, tasks or schedule are common and easily quelled with good communication and comfortable access to supervisors, decision makers, and leaders. As leaders we also need to be proactive and watch for warning signs such as agitation, body language, disengagement, etc.  While most of us have no formal training in the field of psychology basic instincts will take you a long way. As small businesses most of us know the people who work with us well, often very-well, and the warning signs tend to be obvious. Make sure you address them. Listen attentively. Sometimes people just want to talk.

Keeping your teams engaged and invested in their work is important. Arguably one of the most important aspects of your business. Small businesses typically sell themselves on service and a personalized feel to how they operate.  This cannot be accomplished if the people on the ground do not feel cared for, valued, and protected. The lesson today is this: Don’t simply focus on gaining customers, booking jobs, selling products, or making appointments. Focus on your people. Listen more than you talk. When you do speak, speak with clarity and intent. Maintain a self-awareness of what you are asking people to do, and how they are expected to do it. Put yourself in their shoes, and go the extra mile to make sure they know they can trust you.  Respect is earned, never given.

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