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image-cloud-silver-liningOf all the unexpected changes the pandemic has brought on, one that has captivated my attention is how awkward email introductions have become.  “I hope you’re doing well in spite of these wild times” is probably the most common opening line, but the one that always makes me cringe is “I hope you’re adjusting to the new normal.” Like most people, I’m not quite ready to accept that this is actually our new normal. Perhaps that’s just the denial stage of the grief process, but I certainly hope this is a short-term experience and we’ll drift back towards “normal” soon. However, it is important to note that not all aspects of pandemic work life are negative. Sometimes you have to work to see the silver lining, but here are a few of the COVID-era work experience that I hope we retain when things return to “normal”:

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There’s a meme floating around social media that says “If you ask a Midwesterner how they’re doing and they say ‘I’m hanging in there,’ you need to send help. They’re not okay!” As a Midwesterner, I can attest that this is, in fact, absolutely true. Even during a time of shared misery, we find ourselves putting on a brave face and pretending we’re fine. Granted, when most people ask how you’re doing, they expect a superficial answer anyway. Being honest about our present emotional state would require a high degree of vulnerability and trust that the other person would know how to receive that information. We also respond differently depending on who is asking the question. With so much volatility and uncertainty in the workplace right now, it’s likely that you’re not getting an honest answer from your employees when you ask how they’re doing.

Here are 7 things your employees are afraid to tell you and why:

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Worried manager

Worried manager“We didn’t plan for this, but we can use this time to test whether remote workers are as productive as they were when they were in the office.” It seems like a plausible idea. We likely have metrics to measure pre- and post-remote working activities, so it seems like we should be able to accurately identify whether individuals (and teams) are just as productive when working virtually. But there’s a problem with this idea. Under normal circumstances, a comparison could be drawn between the two work environments and the impact on performance. However, nothing about this is normal.

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In so many ways, being a leader is a labor of love. Leaders have the privilege of sharing good news, but also the responsibility of delivering bad news. Leaders work to bring out the best in their employees and watch them flourish, but also mourn when they decide to move on to other opportunities. And when times are tough, they have to put on a brave face and inspire everyone to charge ahead even when they disagree with the battle plan.

In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business world, it’s easy to lose your way. After you’ve been merged, acquired, re-organized, and audited a few times, the passion you once had for leading and mentoring others can be overshadowed by exhaustion, doubt, anxiety, and even depression. And even after you’ve made it through the dark days of the economic depression and corporate downsizing, it’s hard to rekindle the energy you once had. Everyone makes jokes about dreading Monday, but when you find yourself slipping into a depressed state every Sunday evening just thinking about the week ahead, it’s time to make a change. You have to get your mojo back.Read More

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photo_map_compassAfter weeks of Coronavirus coverage and updates, we’re all feeling a bit of COVID conversation fatigue. We’re anxious for life to return to normal as soon as safely possible. We long for the day when we can share a meal with our friends and family. We are hopeful that when businesses are allowed to re-open, we’ll feel this sudden bounce back to normal life.

Unfortunately, it will likely get worse before it gets better.

Organizations responded to stay-at-home orders quickly out of necessity and everyone adapted over time. Getting back to work will come with a new set of challenges that must be driven by policy and strong people-centered leadership. For example, when offices are allowed to re-open, they won’t look the same as they did in January. Read More

COVID-19 Lessons

COVID-19 LessonsWhile we’re still weathering the storm of the Coronavirus pandemic, there are some clear early lessons we’ve learned so far. The nature of work changed dramatically by necessity and forced many of us to consider new policies and processes that were previously inconceivable. In some cases, the changes have been embraced and may become the new normal, whereas others have illuminated points of risk across the organization. Here are a few lessons many organizations have learned so far as a result of the pandemic:

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