Seven weeks ago, things for many of us changed with the snap of our fingers. Life as we knew it was gone. We were forced into working from home, social distancing, communicating via online or phone only as all social connection was effectively cut off. Many lost their jobs and for the rest of us the uncertainty of what lies ahead still creates anxiety and fearful emotions.

As leaders we are no different, we are expected to create security, motivation and certainty for our teams when many of us are also feeling like we are ‘flying’ blind. It’s this lack of clarity that fuels the negative emotions throughout our teams.

So, with the easing of restrictions and return to work starting to creep up on the horizon, how do we best navigate our team and workplace culture through this next phase?

My answer; refocus on creating a FUMISH culture.

Scientifically speaking, FUMISH embraces the collective habits that we form as a group; our collective behaviour. Collective habits across a group create the culture.  For me in the time of COVID-19 the best description of culture is the connectedness of a team/organisation.  I have created the acronym FUMISH to help determine whether you have a positive culture, which applies even whilst working remotely.

Friendly

Connect with each other on a personal and professional level, whether this is via messaging, a phone call or video chat. Genuinely be interested in the other person and care about how each team member are coping.

Understanding

Recognise that fears, anxieties and uncertainties are all very real emotions of your team right now. Talk with your team to understand what these are and how to best address them within the remote workplace, and in this new norm.  All it takes is a simple conversation to help your team feel heard and reassured.

Motivating

While we probably all did this at the start of the year, it’s time to plan again! Reset your 2020 goals and redefine what is expected of you and your team. The bar has changed this year, so what you originally had hoped to achieve may no longer be possible.  If uncertainty means you can only plan 30 days ahead then do so.  Make sure you work with time frames and indicators that are achievable and within your scope.

Inspiring

We can all use a little inspiration every now and again. Revisiting WHY you all do what you do and reconnecting with your companies’ purpose is a great place to start. As a leader it is also easy to feel the need to have all the answers all the time. Sometimes, especially in unprecedented times, it is okay to say you don’t. Being vulnerable, honest and transparent about what you do know to be certain and expressing your own fears and anxieties can create a great connection within your team.

Supportive

Now more than ever it is important to recognise how contagious our attitude and mindset can be. To help with this, find a way to “Choose Your Attitude” every day. Although this sounds simple enough it is harder to live than you might initially think. It takes work and focus; however, it can have an enormous impact on not only yourself, but also those around you. Author and speaker Chris Helder, uses a term “Useful Belief” to change up traditional thinking on a positive mindset; to frame your challenges to make them manageable, and to formulate an action plan for getting where you need to be.  What is your useful belief around why this is happening right now?

Happy

Play theorist Brian Sutton Smith said “the opposite of play is not work; it is depression”. Which is why we encourage everyone to find a way to play with your team, remembering play is not just about “mucking around” but also about “being light-hearted” in everything you do.  By simply adding a way to play and smile everyday with your colleagues, you’ll be amazed at the contagious effect this will have on all the people around you. Afterall, I think we can all agree that a fun, happy and playful work environment, even a remote one, will definitely bring a nice positive boost to your workplace culture.

Now I know you are probably thinking, Dwain this all sounds great, but how on earth am I going to implement it?  Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging.  I have developed a series of strategies to assist with achieving a FUMISH culture, whilst working with remote teams.  And the best part is that I happily share this with you all for FREE in my e-book Avoid the COVID Culture Crash.

Right now, are scary and uncertain times for all of us.  However, I know we will all get through this and there will be another side and one day a distant memory. Support, compassion, understanding and a willingness to care for each other is what will get us through. Remember “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, be kind always”. Together we will get through this.

 

Avoid the COVID Culture Crash

Same key principles, same incredible results. An honest, real and FREE guide to supporting your team through COVID-19 INCLUDING Our top 30 effective yet simple strategies for engaging your team while working remotely.