Most of us are now beginning the sixth week of disrupted working. In Kenya, the Government has prudently extended existing restrictions on social distancing for another three weeks. Most businesses are planning for disrupted operations until July. So, by any measure, this new reality is going to be with us for some time to come.
Reviewing the progress of companies I support, it’s easy to see that the best-led enterprises have made the changes required for business continuity and prioritised the wellbeing of employees. They reason (correctly) that without employee alignment a speedy return to normal operations will not be possible.
I have been hugely impressed by the compassion shown by forward-thinking executive teams. Not simply doing their utmost to preserve employee incomes, but going out of their way to communicate in a way we haven’t seen before.
However, I am beginning to see some unhelpful employee behaviours creeping in at this stage. Some staff members are using the situation to give less effort to their work. To blame poor communications and home distractions. To drop out of group conversations and team projects.
This is not what we need at a time when, as one of our client CEOs says: ‘We need to fight for every shilling of revenue.’ There are customers to be re-engaged, technology-enabled processes to be introduced and costs to be managed. And the best-led businesses are already giving employees the opportunity to work in future-focused projects.
So, on behalf of the leaders of well-run businesses, I’d like to suggest that it’s every employee’s duty to demonstrate his or her worth. To be professional and step up to the challenge. To support bosses and colleagues.
Former US President John F Kennedy was famous for the challenge he gave his fellow Americans during his inaugural address (reminding them of the value of civic action): “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask instead what you can do for your country.”
If you are an employee of a well-led company, you should be asking yourself the same question about your contribution to the common good.
One way of deciding what to contribute involves a pen and a piece of paper (using a pen improves cognitive ability). Divide the paper in half down the middle. On the left side (typically the side of logic) list the actions you must do to sustain your position, department and company. The daily, weekly and monthly duties required of you. It will do you no harm to remember the basics.
The right side of the paper gives you the opportunity to be creative. List here the new contributions you want to make, Think about the ‘old’ ways of doing things that surround your normal work. Decide what you want to change. Be bold, you may not get another opportunity like this. Then engage your managers and colleagues. The process will do you, and them, the world of good!