Categories: Ethics in Communication
Effective communication in COVID-19 crisis needs responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty.
Enrique Cappella, PMP.
Organizations and people are struggling to adapt to the new “normal” work environment and obtain high performance and quality. Working from home in a remote fashion using technology is becoming a powerful tool for business continuity. New concepts of teamwork and social interaction are emerging and the role of the Project manager as a Team Leader is changing. The challenge is to reduce the impact on the new policies (remote meetings, home working, etc.) to handle the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on performance and operations, however it is also an opportunity for preparing the teams to work on hybrid contexts (remote and face to face). The Hybrid Teams bring isolation of the members in remote environments at home or at a work location away from their social support and means a change for people and not all accepts such change. I assist organizations on Strategic Management and one of the Key Success Factors is building and maintain high performance teams that help the organization to achieve their expected results and contribute to the business strategy. Strategic management is already a challenge itself and it is now increased due to the need to protect people and obtain productivity from hybrid teams. It is a change for which not all leaders in the organization are ready for and this gap might impact negatively on team performance and achievement of targets and goals.
I experienced recently the breaking down of a team in a global company. The team was built during the last 3 years, because its leader did not have the skills to communicate effectively the new way of working and to satisfy the team members expectations and needs. A global team of 5 people, running a critical role for the company, lost 3 members and the remaining 2 members are demotivated and their targets are not being achieved.
Leaders need to be aware about their role in this new challenge brought by the global Corona Virus COVD 19. They need to prepare their teams to use new technologies, to adapt to the new reality, and to run meetings and control performance in a virtual fashion. The leader will not have the visual clues of motivation or conflict and need to be available to answer new questions from the team. The new leader needs to learn how to provide for constructive feedback and motivate people using a set of new tools provided by technology different from traditional face to face work schemes. Workers will feel that they are losing connections with the persons that help them during work hours and many will need to adjust their habits and discipline along with keeping self - motivated and work at home where distractions are permanent.
The leader in my example above is not trained or skilled on interpersonal relationships and was not prepared to help the team members to become self-aware of their motivations and strengths needed to understand the change and how to prevent and manage their interpersonal conflict. And nothing was said in preparation to understand other member´s motivations and to learn a communication style for virtual high team performance. The result was that 3 members preferred to leave the company.
Leaders need to develop a new set of values and behaviors and also they need to be honest to recognize that a new set of skills and competences are needed to help teams to overcome uncertainty and build trust and motivation to perform on the hybrid context. I had the opportunity to talk to the team members that left the company and the three of them decided to leave mainly because their manager (supposedly their leader) was not able to keep them connected to the organization. I remember the book “It’s the manager” I recently read by Clifton and Harter[i] which I recommend because it stresses the importance of the role that the manager plays to connect people.
PMI Ethical Values helps leaders to remember that our team members are people that perceive threatens that will drive them into conflict if they don´t understand their leaders and the new challenges; and once they are in conflict, they will forget about the organization and might get to the point to think only about surviving. Leaders must keep in mind that people need to be Respected and treated Fairly to keep their well-being and also they need to become aware of the Responsibility to develop a new set of behaviors that will motivate and connect their team members. Leaders should be Honest with themselves and their teams about his/her strengths and weaknesses and develop team agreements that help them to build high performance teams.
 Clifton, Jim and Harter Jim, It´s the manager, Gallup Press, 2019.