Right now, lots of people are stressed.
Nobody knows what’s coming. Everyone’s changed how they work and live. There’s confusion and fear in the air, and in places it’s bubbling over into anger or foolishness .
Which brings me back to the title. I don’t know if people are your greatest asset - it depends what assets your company has, and what people you have. I’ve seen some companies where it feels wildly inaccurate. But they are almost certainly your greatest liability right now. And for a variety of different reasons:
Those on furlough/reduced hours
- Lapsed skills/practices that will need retraining before you can bring them back in.
- Anger about being put on furlough - resenting why and how that decision was made.
- Stress about being put on furlough - depending on financial impact
Those not on furlough
- burn-out as the skeleton crew who’ve kept the ship sailing during lockdown
- Doing tasks they don’t normally perform, with limited experience/training
- Having to adjust to the new normal
- Having to help customers/clients adjust to the new normal - including many who may be resisting it
All of which, naturally, brings me to Stoic philosophy - the single most important tenet of which is that you should learn to distinguish between the things you can control and things you can’t control, and focus your mind and energy on the former.
There’s a lot happening in the world right now which you probably can’t influence in a substantial way. Whether that’s the spread of the virus, governmental public health and stimulus policy, or public behaviour. And yet I see a lot of posts on LinkedIn about these.
What you can do something about is how your staff feel. How they feel valued. How they feel hopeful. How they feel involved in a plan. How they feel part of a community. And yet I see astonishingly little happening here. I think companies ignoring this are taking a risk they may well come to regret long after we’ve worked out how to deal with more functional challenges like making Zoom work through the company firewall.
Now is the time to take a long, hard look at what you're doing to communicate with staff - wherever they are, and whatever the limitations. Consider what you're telling them about the now. Consider what you're telling them about the future, and consider what you're doing to allow them to talk to you and to each other about both.
It's a really useful thing an organisation can do, right now.