Before we were all tossed into the cyclone of 2020, the phrase “remote workforce” most often referred to sales employees or on-site management consulting. But thanks to the Wicked Witch of the Pandemic, that term has expanded to include many more workers than ever before.
Every employee plays a role in helping the organization succeed, whether the person is in an office or working remotely. But with everyone feeling fatigued from today’s challenges and worried about what’s coming next, it’s easy for employees to lose focus.
Like Dorothy with her ruby slippers, we’ve got the power to help employees reconnect with what’s always been right in front of them: a shared sense of purpose in helping the organization succeed.
The best way to do this is to focus on what I call the three Rs: Refresh the strategy, Reset expectations and Report success.
Refresh the strategy
While your company has probably made some course corrections, odds are the core of its strategy remains the same. Now’s the time to help employees understand what’s changed, what hasn’t and why.
When it comes to explaining the company strategy, senior leaders should take the lead. But in the past, leaders sometimes acted like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind the curtain of facts and figures.
Luckily, during the past few months, leaders have leaned into being transparent, sharing their concerns and showing empathy.
Keep that momentum going when leaders communicate updates to the strategy by:
- Coaching leaders to explain how the organization’s priorities have shifted, along with what’s remained constant. The key here is to lose the corporate jargon and speak in clear and simple language.
- Encouraging leaders to not just narrate the strategy, but to ask employees for their insights. Involve employees in strategy communication by allowing them to ask questions, comment or offer ideas.
- Creating a strategy map. This could take the form of a visual PDF or infographic that simplifies complicated content by graphically showing how all the moving parts of a strategy work together.
Once senior leaders explain the updated strategy, employees will need to know exactly where they fit in and what they need to do.
Here’s where you need managers to take the lead in translating big-picture company strategy into day-to-day work objectives. These conversations offer the perfect opportunity for managers to engage their teams and make clear what’s expected.
Your role is to provide managers with tools to help explain what the updated strategy means for their employees:
- Create customizable talking points that will help managers be specific about how the updated strategy impacts the goals for their business units and their team members’ roles. Ensure that talking points focus on new behaviors and reinforce “what we need to do differently.”
- Provide a robust set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) so managers are ready to answer any questions employees may have.
Show what success looks like by highlighting employees and teams who are modeling the right behaviors. Doing so creates connections and deepens relationships—particularly important for remote workers. It boosts morale by showcasing achievements and letting employees know that their hard work does not go unnoticed.
Reach out to managers and ask them to identify one or two team members who are leading by example and keeping others motivated. Then create a series of spotlights that:
- Feature an individual employee. What is a typical workday like? What key behaviors are contributing to his/her success? What one thing would he/she recommend co-workers do?
- Highlight team achievements. What challenges did the team face? How did they overcome these hurdles? What were the lessons learned?
Share these stories across your channels: on the intranet, internal social media, digital or print newsletters and/or digital screens. When employees see how their featured colleagues are working to drive the organization’s mission, they’ll be motivated to take on their own challenges.
The fact is, the “next normal” will look different for almost every employee—whether remote or not. What’s true for all employees, though, is that they will continue to worry about what comes next. You can help them manage that anxiety by setting them on the Yellow Brick Road to a shared sense of purpose.