The pandemic fog, slowly but surely, is starting to lift.
For more than a year, many of us have been trudging along in a zombie-like state — unsure which day of the week it is, showering intermittently, and wearing holes into the backsides of our favorite sweatpants. This lethargy seeps into every aspect of life, perhaps none more so than the work we do for a living.
As life begins resembling its former self, getting “back to normal” won’t be as easy as flipping a switch. The hangover effect is real. Re-entering the physical office without a face mask and being in close proximity with colleagues, while exciting, will cause some trepidation. Joining a crowded meeting room instead of clicking a Zoom link will be a source of hesitation. Getting back to work might be like riding a bicycle, but this particular bike has a rusted chain and two flat tires from months of neglect. It’ll take time, and as they say in recovery, “time takes time.”
Perhaps now is the time to start on the road to recovering your professional passion — as well as those you lead.
Putting People First
Employees the world over are dealing with big-time pandemic fatigue and could use a spark of motivation to remember their purpose at work or within their companies. That inspiration often starts at the top of an organization. Are you prepared to rally the troops and serve as the positive career cheerleader your workers need?
“As a leader, it’s your job to nurture connections between people that will grow into a community,” says Kerry Stover, chief operating officer at consulting firm Pariveda Solutions, who advocates for the importance of developing people within your company to help them transform your business. “Create systems of communication and collaboration that foster close connections; purpose will flow through these channels and grow stronger as it’s shared.”
Together everyone achieves more, and an inclusive company culture that nurtures its people — especially during times of uncertainty — will reinvigorate workers and sharpen the company’s overall focus. Sounds obvious, but people look to (and gravitate toward) leaders who lead. This is your moment.
Stoking the Fires Within
As you shake off your own personal dust and cobwebs before you embark on this new beginning of sorts, try out these strategies as you think about how to be your best professional self — and the inspirational leader your charges need in order to rediscover their purpose and passion for the work they do:
1. Build your network.
When you create or support a meaningful product or service, it’s much easier to remember why you are passionate about your profession. To that end, seek out your brand ambassadors — or as I like to call them, Superfans — to help bolster the team’s overall morale. Nothing sells better than word-of-mouth encouragement from devoted brand followers, and nothing stirs an employee’s feelings of satisfaction quite like the belief that they are making a positive impact in people’s lives. Find and tell the stories of your Superfans, both internally and externally in marketing campaigns, to draw more advocates to your brand and more delight out of your workforce.
2. Reflect on your values.
The coronavirus crisis brought a lot of things into focus for people, including what they value most in this fragile life we all navigate. What drives you? What are your core values? What are you good at doing? And what contributions do you want to make? The answers to these questions will shape how you motivate yourself and others. The proverbial slate has been wiped clean, so don’t be afraid to take some chances as you embrace who you want to be as a leader. Maybe you learned that you value open, honest communication during the pandemic; infuse that knowledge into your daily interactions with co-workers and watch how that trust leads to deeper job satisfaction for everybody.
3. Reframe a negative attitude.
Sometimes, the biggest changes can come from the smallest of adjustments. To truly change a potentially harmful attitude at work, you need to be able to recognize negative habits and thoughts and have a mechanism to extinguish them before they catch fire. It’s impossible to be a light of positive energy every day, sure, but your team will follow your lead. If you are happy and productive, so goes the team. If you’re teetering on the edge of burnout, well, you can fill in the rest.
4. Focus on building new skills.
Routines can become boring if new elements aren’t introduced from time to time. Variety is the spice of life; nothing ventured, nothing gained; enter your own proverb here. If you want to jostle yourself and your team members out of their mundanity, introduce opportunities for professional development. Learning something new often re-energizes a company’s creativity and productivity, and individuals typically cherish the ability to add new skills and perspectives to their career paths.
The past 16 months have been hazy, but the forecast is warm and sunny for brands, businesses, and the talented individuals who comprise them. To meet this day head-on, it’s important to tap into what drives people to be successful at work and happy in life. If you can, you’ll lead yourself, your team, and your company into the bright new future we’ve all been waiting for.