Post by: Mary Shirley, Senior Director, Ethics & Compliance, Compliance Operations, Fresenius Medical Care North America
Some of the more optimistic or perhaps naïve of us thought that the July and August months would herald significant improvements in the Coronavirus era and we might be headed back to a sense of normality at this juncture. Time has revealed we are some distance away from a return to the lives, both personal and professional, of before. The office seems a distant memory away. I’ve even been to New Zealand since I was last in the office!
In light of the ongoing distance with your team members, here are three easy ways to remain connected with your team and show appreciation:
- Send a card or food delivery to their home. The key message of course is I appreciate you and am grateful for your presence on my team. However that message is further amplified when you go to extra effort to communicate your feelings. When writing the card, I recommend including the three best traits about that person you appreciate and admire so they know what you feel they bring to the team. Positive feedback pairs well with gratitude. If you have a little more budget – sending lunch like a pizza delivery or perhaps a fun edible arrangement is another way to connect while maintaining your social distance.
- Explicitly schedule 15 or so minutes more than you need for a business call just to catch up with the others on the line. Without the incidental contact we have in the kitchen concocting a caffeine hit or walking back from a conference room meeting together, organic opportunities for building rapport and relationships are now diminished due to the lack of physical contact. That’s no reason to go without, create them yourself and encourage some non-work related conversation. If you have a shy introvert on the other end, have a prompt ready such as “What’s the best thing that has happened to you so far this week?”
- Schedule a career mapping session. With all that has been going on, focus has been on how to survive during a pandemic and how to sincerely commit to social justice causes. It can be easy to get caught up in these important concerns and not be as focused for now on the individual career goals of your team. Why not sit down to have a meeting all about each of your employees to give your mentoring and coaching insights on their career goals and discuss how you might be able to help them get closer to their goals and map out what they can do to keep their eye on the prize. These meetings pair beautifully with mid year performance review which many of us are going through right now. I have found that performance review meetings often run over time. While I’m not an organizational psychologist, my thoughts are that this is not a coincidence. When employees know they have dedicated time to address their career and performance, they want to make the most of that time. With this in mind, sitting down for a career mapping session can be a great way to show how invested and interested your are in the aspirations of your team members and demonstrably show that you’re in their corner as a cheerleader for their success. With some Compliance Departments facing budget cuts, creativity in resourcing allocation may be required. Are there opportunities for your staff members to help Compliance Departments in other regions of your business? Have you ever asked your team members which countries they might be willing to re-locate to for internal promotion? Have you reached out to your peers in other locales to discuss secondments? We are going through one of the most challenging periods of our lifetime. That doesn’t mean you can’t be instrumental in planning opportunities whether for now to bridge crisis gaps, or for the future that will benefit your team and the company.
While you may read these ideas and assume they’re suggestions for managers, the reality is that peers or subordinates should also consider the avenues open to them for appreciating and building relationships with colleagues during this time. Our sense of belonging in the world is heavily connected to our relationships at work. True leadership derives not from professional title, but from identifying what can be done to make the lives of those around you better and easier. No matter what your role, think about what outreach options might be available to you within the department and to your internal clients while we continue to figure out the way forward, together.