“Problems are best preempted in environments of trust and transparency, challenges are best faced with cohesive, decisive and consistent action.” - Rob Glazer, Acceleration Partners
While the world seems incredibly disconnected and isolated at the moment, we are in an odd limbo of separation but mutual understanding. Though we are encouraged to keep our distance, we also crave connection and empathy. As the face and leader of a company, I feel as though now is a better time than ever to share my experiences and relate to other companies who are going through exactly what we are going through. While we are physically apart, we are certainly not alone.
I’ve found that the key value in times like these is communication. I connected with a colleague of mine who expressed that his leadership team had basically been silent. While he was making an effort to increase communication, one person can only talk to himself for so long.
While communication is key, leading by example is also critical. A leadership team has a responsibility to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. If they are absent from company Slack channels, virtual meeting rooms, and email inboxes, teams will follow suit. Your voice as a leader is far from diminished just because you are not standing at the head of a long conference table.
The way your teams communicate, cascades down from your leaders and how they communicate with the company. Their persistent focus on company culture will be seen and heard during a time when water cooler chats and happy hours are forced to materialize in creative alternative ways.
So I say lead by example, but how has PulsePoint put this into practice?
- We had a prep plan: My Head of People and I met every day for 10 days before we even made the call to initiate a work from home policy. We communicated to the senior team who cascaded it down and we sent three emails to the team sharing that “we were planning to cover all contingencies” We had all hands on deck to make sure everyone would have what they needed to work from home. Our IT department went above and beyond to provide the resources and set up for a smooth transition. Our HR department set guidelines and recommendations for establishing a unified and consistent communication schedule between teams.
- We established a framework for daily consistency: In times like these, it may feel as though everything is in flux. But creating some sort of pattern and routine to go by, creates a grounded sense of normalcy, especially in the workplace. We instituted morning team stand up and evening team sit down check-ins, created a special “Delight from a Distance” Slack channel for increased remote communication, maintained the occurrence of company wide weekly meetings and manager 1:1 meetings, and stressed the importance of “face time”, recommending video conferencing as much as possible.
- We used creativity to engage and motivate internal communication: By creating the PIG (productivity, inclusion, and goodwill) acronym, sending a light hearted alignment email each morning from myself, and running internal marketing campaigns, we aim to keep morale and engagement high. Our Marketing team has created a plan filled with care packages, down time activity recommendations, fun listicles and quizzes and other tactics to increase connectivity during disconnected times. We have run virtual “happy hours” and a virtual “music raves” where one of our IT guys served as the DJ.
In a nutshell, I’m proud of how my teams have come together in tough times to support one another and keep business objectives and company values at top of mind. I am grateful for everyone’s instant buy-in and efficient preparation to make sure we can continue to run our business smoothly. And I believe sharing these experiences externally will only help others feel a greater sense of understanding and relatability towards what everyone is going through.
Lastly, it is important to note that a sense of leadership and a value of communication is not established in one night. It must be the foundation of any business from day one so that when we find ourselves in unexpected circumstances the team is ready. Otherwise, the effort to shoe horn this in at the last minute will come across as inauthentic and could quite frankly, have an opposite effect.
Although it’s only been a few days of a new reality check, every day is certainly a fresh start and a welcoming opportunity to do great things in the world of health marketing. Besides washing your hands, if there’s anything you can do right now as a business leader, it’s to take on the challenge of seeing the best of every situation, and encouraging your team members to do the same. If possible, even use your company’s speciality to make a positive impact in their field. I admire 72andSunny’s efforts to use their creative talent in relevant and contextual settings.
As we enter uncharted territory, we can continue to come together from a distance, navigating the balance of increased communication yet also separation anxiety.