In a recent interview published on the Knowledge@Wharton website, Dartmouth Professor Syd Finkelstein talked about lowering employee anxiety and communicating effectively with your employees during this time of remote work. He explains what should be happening during one-on-one conversations with your team members. In particular, he describes how leaders should try to understand their employees' pain points and aspirations.
The second thing is more of an individual idea, which is for each individual on your team to carve out some time to have that one-on-one conversation, not the big Zoom meeting or the BlueJeans meeting or whatever it is. One of the best ways you can signal that you really care about somebody – and this will help alleviate their anxiety – is if you try to understand what it is they need and what they want in their own careers at this point in time.
That could be starting to think about, “Well, within a year hopefully we’re on the other side and here’s what I’d like to do.” Or, “I have an aspiration to be a senior VP or a C-suite executive here” — to actually spend the time partnering, where you’re not only providing advice, but you’re actually helping them execute on this. For example, if somebody needs certain skills to get to the next stage, you help them figure out how they can get those skills. If that means a new assignment, a new opportunity, you do that.
That’s just good management of people. But when you do that, especially now, you’re demonstrating in a real way – not just with words, which are important – that you care about each individual person and you want them to succeed, and you want to understand what’s going on in their lives now, and work together to try to get them to the next stage, whatever that happens to be.