Since the beginning of the Pandemic, leaders across the board have been working hard to ensure they act with empathy. The world is facing crises on multiple fronts, and we are all trying to catch a collective breath. Everyone continues to experience the world events and the resulting trauma in individual ways. And thus, there is no ‘one-size-fit-all’ way to measure the impact on individual productivity. Navigating such unprecedented times meant that leaders had to express compassion at every stage, and be lenient with deadlines and employee performances.
But, now with the restrictions slowly lifting across many parts of the world, leaders have a new problem at hand. They are now wondering how to balance compassion for their team members with effective accountability. The good news is, these don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Instead of looking at them as separate entities, you need to think of ways to combine the two.
But, how do I do that?
To help you figure out how to find the delicate balance between compassion and accountability, here are 5 things to watch out for –
1. Take time to positively reflect on the past year
It goes without saying that 2020 was a year unlike any other. Nothing could have prepared your team for what happened. And, thus, it is ok to completely write-off the last one year without criticising any mistakes made, or a difference in productivity and profitability. However, what perhaps could serve your organisation better is to take a stock of all the milestones, small or big, achieved. Be it a team member coming through on a seemingly impossible project, or your team simply coming together to tide through as one unit; all such instance, together, when acknowledged and celebrated could help spread gratitude and positivity.
When your team witnesses their efforts celebrated by the leadership team, they are bound to feel rejuvenated and recharged. They will feel emotionally invested in the organisation. A simple nod of acknowledgement is bound to go a long way.
2. Choose the right way to motivate your team
Often, managers assume that a stricter approach will lead to enhanced productivity. This negates the importance of compassion and empathy when it comes to team productivity and inter-personal bonding. But, for leaders trying to find the sweet spot between compassion and accountability, compassion can be a game changer. Managers who work to ensure psychological safety remains a priority, have been known to produce enhanced productivity.
“Being compassionate doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards. People’s response to compassion is often to invest more in the organization.”
– Jane Dutton, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business & co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work
In essence, compassion is not just a nice thing to do, but rather critical when it comes to your team’s performance.
3. Set the right boundaries
With the past one year being what it was, there is a possibility that you might find yourself being too lenient. Adjustments in terms of deadlines, time off, and overall performance are common, but what if you feel that you are being taken advantage of? This can become a bigger issue if you, as a parader, have been going above and beyond at your work. However, this mindset can be detrimental. No two people experience any situation the same way. The past one year continues to result in burnouts, and reduced motivation. So, instead of losing yourself in negative thoughts and doubts, address underperformance religiously.
If you find a team member constantly underperforming, reach out to them. Initiate conversations, make them feel comfortable enough to share their challenges with you. This will allow you to address underperformance efficiently. What’s more is that you may end building better relationships with your team. You will also be able to weed out the root cause of your team’s performance. And, if even after repeated conversations and follow ups, someone continues to underperform, you will have a decision to make.
4. Resilience should be the mantra
Every single person in your team responds to stressful situations differently. Some might push through more easily than others. While some may find themselves experiencing burnouts, breakdowns, and reduced productivity. While, at the same time, some peop0le might cope with he changing tides by focusing completely on their work, and being hyper productive. Thus, as a leader it is important to reflect on this and approach things accordingly. Initiate conversations around how can you help your team members perform better? And what can you do to help them handle their personal and professional lives better?
It will require additional diligence and efforts on your part, but it will definitely be worth it. The more you work to strengthen your team members, the stronger your team and your organisation will grow. An effective way to do so is to highlight their progress and encourage them further. Being confronted with heir individual victories will act as a booster shot for your team, and motivate them further. Also, find ways to help your team find purpose in their work. Remind them of the positive impact they are making, and are capable of making. It is bound to help them push through phases of reduced motivation and despair.
5. Take care of yourself
This might surprise you, but self-care is an essential part of effective leadership; especially in times of unprecedented stress and unpredictable world conditions like this. It’s easy to lose yourself fin your role as the manager. However, it is not wise nor advisable to do so. After all,
“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”
You might be the manager of a large team, but you also are a human being yourself. The stress and trauma associated with a pandemic ridden world, and the resulting consequences are impacting you just the same. Thus, even as you work to help your team find their footing post the upheaval caused by the past one year, don’t forget about yourself. Ensure that you have a healthy routine, get adequate sleep, take the required time off, and have the support you need. Both professionally and personally, you need to be mindful of your own needs, to be able to give your team your 100%.