Connection, Communication & Compassion during COVID

By Katie Lynch | Chief Operating Officer | September 22, 2020

I just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago and as I have started to look back at the year, it still amazes me where we are at. Heading into what most states determine to be the fall season (I am in Arizona, so “Fall” is the excitement that we may only hit a high in the 90’s next week), I feel like our year has barely begun. Wasn’t it just March? When times were “normal” ~ masks were for Halloween, kids were still physically attending school and actively engaged, we all still went into work dreading the traffic, and sports were still on TV!

This coronavirus pandemic has created sweeping changes and disruptions in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Social isolation has been mandated and workplaces are facing new realities as remote work is now becoming the norm. School closures and online learning is creating new challenges for kids, parents and teachers alike, and who knows if and when football season will really start! A crisis like this has the power to either break a team down and widen your organization’s foundational cracks, or it can result in the rise of true greatness.

What is it going to be for your organization?

Connecting with Others

Technology – sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse! So, rather than using technology as a platform for complaint, especially now, we should use our tools to their fullest extent and connect with each other.

Ok, I get it – and I feel it too! “If I have to be on another {insert platform here} call today, I am going to…..!”

I have heard this SO often lately – from my son (not quite in those words), from friends, and even from my own mouth. But technology is what is allowing us to stay connected while physically being apart. I have a friend who is getting ready to make a big move and while the thought of her not being around the corner breaks my heart, we have just simply decided to stay connected with FaceTime much more than we ever have before. WHY? Because that “face-to-face” connection is so important and will allow us to remain close as if she were still here.

Maintaining the importance placed on your employees during these times is critical to the success of your organization. Giving them a platform to have that face to face time, where you ask how they are doing and truly connect, is critical. Working remotely can cause people to feel isolated, making it so much more important to routinely check in with them. Our daily living routines have been so disrupted and it is completely natural for this disruption and uncertainty to cause anxiety, stress, and strain physically, mentally, and for many, financially. We must remember during these times that staying physically distanced does not mean staying socially isolated.

Technology allows us to minimize disruption by keeping each other – especially those of us working from home – connected. During these uncertain times, connection is the key to ensuring your organization (and your employees for that matter) can continue as intended while navigating the unpredictable.

Strengthen Communication & Team Unity

The biggest expense in just about every company is your employees – the people that bring your organization’s vision to life every day. Because of this, organizations need to do everything in their power to make certain that their biggest “expense” is also valued as their greatest asset. Coming from the corporate world where I was just another number on the payroll we had an opportunity to do better when we started John Lynch & Associates. We made a choice to always make our employees #1, knowing that their happiness would directly impact our company’s culture. Setting the foundation of our company’s culture, which will in turn impact our client’s success, comes with great responsibility (anyone have a sudden desire to watch Spiderman now??).

More recently, we have had to make some very hard decisions around our employees and how we continue to thrive in light of these trying times. I’d like to think that even in the hard moments, we have dealt with situations with compassion, striving to keep the company culture we have fought so hard for in tack. 

Culture is everything and unity is key! An old proverb states, “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” So, when it comes to your organization’s success, company culture, and team unity, strong communication must be a main focus. As employees continue to settle into what could be a permanent remote working life, intentional communication is crucial to keeping work moving as it should.

Communication cannot happen as easily as it once did when people were sitting next to each other or caught each other while walking down the hall. Not only to monitor the emotional toll these changes have taken on your employees, but also to keep your employees productively focused, heightened communication is necessary.

Implement more regular team meetings or check-ins; establish the sense of community with your team; clarify your expectations for each meeting and develop your team’s new norms. Talk about not only the good, but the tough subjects too. How are your employees really doing? Are there factors in their home life that are affecting their work life? Do they need help? Leaders need to actively promote a culture in which teams can trust each other and know that the space created is safe, non-judgmental, and filled with compassion.

Exemplifying Compassion

Compassionate leadership – leadership that REQUIRES your heart along with your head.

I truly believe that this is what organizations need now more than ever. If you are already in the healthcare industry, empathy and compassion probably come naturally to you. You care for patients; you chose a profession that is all about helping people and displaying empathy. So, what better time than now to understand that your employees are likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious about circumstances related to all of the change?

There are so many benefits to practicing empathy and exemplifying compassion – especially during these crazy times. Not only does this help your connection with others, it helps regulate your emotions too! Win-win, right? You can build empathy by engaging meaningfully, staying aware of other’s needs, and being genuinely kind to others.

So how do you become one of those people that oozes compassion?

Research has shown that empathy is an emotional skill and can be learned. When it feels more difficult than ever to stay in touch, here are some great ways you can learn to be empathetic:

  • Stay connected
  • Be present in the moment and aware of what is happening around you and in the lives of others.
  • Be considerate and kind. And remember this applies to yourself too.
  •  Help someone else. Helping others when things seem overwhelming provides you with a sense of control.

90 percent of participants in a recent study felt that leaders who showed compassion improved their work-life balance and increased their personal satisfaction. 70 percent of respondents who experienced compassion from their leaders were more productive than those who did not. This improved well-being; and boosts in productivity should encourage leaders to continue inventing ways to connect to your team, foster open and candid conversations, over communicate, and above all consistently display empathy and compassion.

“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.” – Stephanie Bennett Henry

So, as you step back and evaluate where you are at and where this crazy year has taken us be sure to look for that counterbalance in life. Be quick to hear – really work to understand people and what they might be going through; truly listen! Be slow to speak so you can meet them where they are at, and show compassion and empathy for whatever they are going through. Together, let’s work to find some peace amidst so much turmoil.

 

 

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