Helping your managers fight their own type of virus fatigue

3 Minutes Read

I’m seeing in the news a lot about virus fatigue.  It strikes me as both scary and understandable.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to go see a movie or go out to eat with some friends.  I would love to be able to go outside without having to wear a mask.  Still, like most adults I know that it would be irresponsible to do so.

Most of the human resources executives I speak with for KangoGift keep telling me of the type of virus fatigue they are seeing in their own organizations. These past 9 months have been traumatic beyond words.  No organization has been spared.  Many organizations have been forced to deal with traumas that a year ago would seem incomprehensible. Still managers need to deliver and need for their teams to deliver. 

So how then, can managers be encouraged to deliver results while also keeping in mind that we’re living in, and dealing with, extraordinary times? The quick answer is yes they can.  But they will need some support.

Let’s look at some ways that HR leaders can give support to the line managers.  They include:

  • Help define success for them
  • Help them work to find the employees who are feeling extra stress and be their sounding board
  • Remind managers of their value to the organization

Let’s look at these ideas in some detail.

Help define success for them-- This may seem a bit unorthodox but, as we know, we are living in unorthodox times.  First, what I am not talking about is setting specific goals for the managers.  If the manager’s group is supposed to bake 12 cookies per hour I am not advising it to be 18. What I am talking about is looking for a softer goal. 

For example maybe we look at year-over-year satisfaction?  Maybe we start reviewing employee retention rates.  The actual goal used is not as relevant as working with the line manager to find something that reflects the true nature of success in their team.  No manager wants to be judged on outdated points. 

Here’s a possible example.  Simply asking if employees are satisfied isn’t enough.  Everyone I talk to says that asking simplistic questions like that just won't work.  The questions need to be taken to a further level and need to focus on matters related to this new universe. A simple how satisfied is not enough. Managers need to work with leadership to determine how success should be measured. 

Help managers work to find the employees who are feeling extra stress and be their sounding board--One thing I said not so long ago is that if you want to find the employees who are feeling more stress in their lives right now that all you need to do is look all around you and then in the mirror. In other words it’s easy. 

If we were to measure the ways that employees are feeling extra stress we just need to look around.  Be it remote learning, poor home office supplies and equipment or noisy neighbors stress is all around. 

HR needs to work with the managers to find those employees who need that extra level of engagement to deal with an extraordinary series of events.  Remember that those things that may have been a mild annoyance last year can become a tremendous, full blown crisis this year.  

We may be crossing into new territory where managers also become a listener.  While this may seem confusing at first, once the line managers understand that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.  What’s essential is that senior management be there with the exact same type of support they are expected to give to their teams. 

Remind managers of their importance to the organization-- That’s a nice segue into this point and that is to remember your managers are also employees of the organization.  It falls on senior management to ensure they realize how critical they are to the organization and use the exact tools the managers are using on their own teams. 

It is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with expecting the teams to deliver the same results as before the pandemic.  Most likely the needs haven’t changed so managers need to continue on as before.  Still it is essential that HR executives remember that everyone is feeling the strain so it is essential that managers know they are contributors but also recipients of the organization's support during this time.

So what to do?  Well the steps are quite easy, the question is if you can execute them  They are:

  • Redefine the concept of success in the current era and make sure it’s known and understood by employees.
  • Make sure managers are there for employees and capable of providing them with that extra help needed for this extraordinary time
  • Ensure that your managers know the organization is appreciative of their efforts and that they need to continue executing at the same level as before 

It’s also important that to overcome the gap that now exists because it is now impossible to have team building opportunities.  Well the truth is that the opportunities are there.  When I’m talking to human resources leaders for KangoGift I’m hearing some really original ideas.  They include:

  • Zoom Trivia Tournaments
  • Creativity awards for dealing with COVID
  • Surprise early closing days

These are only 3 examples.  The takeaway for all of this is that you need your managers to continue to be managers.  They can do that but will need your help.  It’s time to be creative and it’s time to be thoughtful.  If you want to succeed, this is how. 

Todd Horton