3 things the pandemic taught me

I’ve had some wonderful conversations lately.

Conversations with inspiring, wise and talented leaders in the non-profit sector who I’m lucky enough to coach and work with. We’ve been talking about getting out into the Spring sun for walks that don’t end after 40 minutes because we’re so cold. About meeting with dear friends for a drink or two outside the pub. About getting our teams together in one place at last. These conversations have been uplifting and happy.

Giddy almost.

We’ve also been talking about what we’ve learned from the pandemic. These chats have been more sobering. There’s been some tough learning about the fragile state of the sector – but three positive themes are emerging.

1. How your people are really, really matters

Anyone who has read my blogs or who has worked with me knows that I have been shouting about this for forever. Your people are your greatest asset!! I’ve always argued that it’s absolutely vital to appreciate them, value them, invest in them. And, boy, have we seen this loud and clear in the last year.

The fundraiser who has too much pressure without sufficient support will burn out. The finance officer whose voice is not heard or welcomed will feel angry and resentful. The admin assistant who doesn’t feel valued will switch off. None of this is good for these hugely important people or good for our organisations. As we emerge from the pandemic with all the challenges in front of us we need to take more care of how everyone is so they can play a positive part in the future.

Practical ideas:

  1. In your next one-to-one meeting ask how the person is before you ask how the project is. And then listen.
  2. Get some people trained in Mental Health First Aid and offer training and support from Mind to all your staff.

2. Everyone has a contribution to make (and we need these contributions).

I’ve loved the democratisation that we’ve seen this last year – the Zoom screen which has no hierarchy or top table is a great symbol of this. Ideas have sprung up from all sections of our organisations. People have discovered skills that they didn’t know they had and have made an enormous contribution.

One of the most powerful examples I’ve seen is the Furloughed Fundraisers Chat run by Nikki Wrench on Facebook. She set this up independently at the beginning of the pandemic and now supports 100s of fundraisers.

In my Leaders Who Brunch meet-up last week we were exploring the importance of being creative and how the best solutions will come from groups of diverse thinkers. We need the perspectives of people throughout our organisations, so let’s make this crisis a catalyst for sparkling ideas and brave ways of doing things.

What can you do in your organisation to help that along?

Practical ideas:

  1. De-silo things by creating space for lots of cross-team collaboration on projects which enhance wellbeing in some way.
  2. Invite every staff member to come up with a solution to a problem created by the pandemic – as Nikki’s organisation ‘Make-a-Wish’ did to find practical ‘wishes’ which could still come true for children in lockdown.

3. It’s simple things that make people happy

One of the conversations I had was prompted by an article in the Guardian this week about the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. “What the pandemic has done,” he says, “is underscore the joy of simple pleasures”. That feels so true, doesn’t it? We’ve found this year that a chatty meal with family, a bike ride or curling up with a good book are all super reliable mood boosters. Not the holidays or new outfits we have always imagined would make us feel better. Once you have a reasonable level of income and security, apparently, life doesn’t have to be full of ‘stuff’ for us to be happy.

So, that’s great news for your teams too!

Practical ideas:

  1. Use Slack or Google Chat to continue staff social time even once our working lives are more back to normal.
  2. Get some lunch and learn sessions going and invite staff to showcase their skills and passions.

What about you?

What have you learned from the pandemic? Perhaps it was something you were aware of previously but were too busy to appreciate the significance off or maybe it was something entirely new, an a-ha moment.

Will you be making changes as a result to the way you lead your team? Have you too found that it’s the little things that can make a big difference?

Have you become aware of the democratisation that we’ve seen over the past 12 months? How will you nurture that going forward?

What next?

If you would like support in taking action on lessons learned from the pandemic in your organisation, get in touch on the form below. Or book a no-obligation Discovery Call here. We could be talking later today.