TradieHR director Leigh Olsen has some timely practical advice for business owners on keeping the trust of staff during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Over the past few weeks, all of us have had our world turned upside down once again thanks to Covid-19 and it’s new sidekick, Delta.
For many running small-to-medium-sized businesses, stress levels have risen dramatically, alongside challenges that now feel never ending.
I have been busy supporting business owners who need more support than ever.
On a daily basis, there is a common question asked again and again by business owners — “My team are stressed and under so much pressure, what should I do?” Every time, my reply is always the same — “demonstrate trust!”
What is trust?
Trust underpins everything we do as a business. It’s why our people join our businesses and it’s also why our customers come back again and again.
Trust is where we have a firm belief in something or someone who shows reliability, honesty or the ability to do something well and consistently.
Trust is fundamental in making sure our work relationships can come together to create the magic that make our businesses great. For many of us right now, trust is the key ingredient that will get us through these tough times.
Your people want to know you have their back and will help them get through yet another lockdown. If they know this, then they will continue to do the best possible job they can do for you!
Demonstrating trust-based actions
So how can you keep the trust of your teams during these challenging times? The easiest way you can keep the trust within your teams is by regularly demonstrating trust-based actions.
These actions will communicate to your people that you not only care about them in these trying times, but that you also mean what you say.
Below are some key trust-based actions you can demonstrate in the upcoming weeks to keep your teams together and come out the other side of lockdown even stronger than before.
Find ways to demonstrate authentic and real ways of caring for your team. This is more than just asking “how are you going today?”
If your employees are busy at home trying to juggle home schooling while working for you, allow them to finish slightly early on a Friday or start slightly later, recognising that they’re doing the best they possibly can do for everyone, including you.
This simple action will be remembered well past any lockdown!
As a business owner, you’ve got used to staying strong. Yet during these times, your greatest strength could be showing when you’re not.
By sharing this type of vulnerability with your staff, it can be a great action to create and sustain trust with your team.
If you’ve waited five hours for a Covid test and you’re scared about the result, share this with your team.
This level of vulnerability encourages your team to be vulnerable in return, creating a safe space for them to talk about things that are on their minds, and that might be preventing them from doing a good job for you right now.
Stand up for your people
Time and again, employees have told me about a time that their boss stuck up for them when someone else, mostly a customer, was giving them a hard time.
Often, these examples are the ones that have led to an employee staying longer in the company or doing an even better job than before.
It’s highly likely that some of your workforce could be having pressure placed on them by your customers at the moment. Often, these customers will be stressed and may take it out on your team.
Take some of the heat for your team, demonstrating that you’re prepared to stick up for them when it matters while making sure the customer feels supported as well.
Model trust-based actions yourself
Within the first week of the most recent lockdown, one client was concerned about his team member under-performing, and being constantly late to meetings. Without a doubt, lateness is a quick and easy way to deplete trust. Yet, at the same time, the client was late to our own meeting!
If we don’t demonstrate the same actions we are asking of others to build trust, then it gives all of us an excuse to “opt out” from trustworthy actions, lessening the trust between us and making these lockdowns even harder.
No mixed signals
Making sure your trust-based actions are consistent is vital throughout a lockdown. Don’t just do one trustworthy action in the first week and then contradict it in the following weeks.
A few weeks ago, one of my clients said they had told their staff to not worry about the results at the moment as it was lockdown. Yet the following day, the manager CC’d me in on a long list of To Dos for his team to complete by the end of the week.
Mixed messaging can be avoided by ensuring that your communication is open and honest, talking face to face, and clearing up any misunderstandings immediately.
Yet, like my client, it is so easy to forget about being consistent in our actions as we get further into a lockdown, and as we come under immense pressure ourselves.
Find ways in the upcoming weeks to identify the moments where you say one thing, and then do the other. Make a plan to create more consistency in your actions.
All of us need support during a lockdown, and knowing how to support your people in the right way during lockdown can be tough.
If you’re needing more in-depth support on how to demonstrate trust during Covid-19, please give our team at Tradie HR a call, or visit www.tradiehr.co.nz.
Note: This article is not intended to be a replacement for legal advice.