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In the ’90s when flying was easy and fun, I flew the blue skies with a Canadian airline. Initially having a lot of fun, travelling the world and meeting great people along the way. Fast forward to 2020, 20 years later and some of the lessons and experiences are revealing themself today, working through a pandemic.
3 Reminders as a flight attendant:
Put your own oxygen mask on first.
“Being on” all the time is exhausting.
Working and trusting your team is critical.
So what do I mean by this?
We’ve heard it all before we need to put our own masks on first, before anyone else. Why? Simply if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are no good to anybody else. This applies to parenting, leadership and working in a team environment.
What about leaders working through a pandemic? If the expectation is to support their team, and develop them to work in a virtual environment perhaps struggling themselves, they need to look after themselves first.
Ensure they are controlling their mindset, emotions, stress, sleep, physical activity etc. in order to lead effectively. We cannot engage, motivate and support our team when we are running on empty.
Slow down, establish office hours, communication style, and response time. Set clear expectations for your team to avoid increasing anxiety and frustration. Also, model the behaviour you expect of them.
“Being on” is exhausting. Zoom gloom and virtual fatigue are real. Our brains are working harder and longer in a remote setting. In a F2F meeting, we wouldn’t stare at our clients so intently, as we do on a virtual call.
The permanent smile I had as a flight attendant from greeting the passengers while entering and disembarking was nothing short of exhausting. I was operating in a fishbowl, all eyes on us at all times, it was not enjoyable, people having access to your emotions and actions. There was no such thing as privacy.
After hours on Zoom, I sometimes feel the same way. What are some solutions to this? schedule Zoom calls when required. If it can be a phone call, schedule a call or email or text, based on the nature of the message.
If you have weekly team meetings, suggest cameras on during Monday's meeting. This is a great way to check in at the beginning of the week and connect with your team. On Wednesdays, perhaps change it to a phone call or email update, and Fridays’ look at Zoom calls with cameras optional.Give people the option to “shut off’ for a moment.
Look at reducing the length of your meeting. Can you record a video in advance and send it out to your team to consume prior to the meeting? This invites your team to show up engaged, ready to participate and have some questions which create more dynamic meetings that maximize everybody's time.
Working together and trusting your team in times of uncertainty is important. Leadership is not a title. Your behaviours, actions and thoughts make you an effective leader.
Set realistic expectations, have a solid understanding of the virtual selling environment, buyer's journey and relevant problems you solve for your ideal client. If you haven’t adjusted the budget or number of calls per day, examine the landscape, the morale, and the culture. It will slowly start to erode and there will be a revolving exit door to the next sales gig.
As a flight attendant, there were times I worked with Inflight Leads, who have never worked as a flight attendant. What they would ask us to do was unrealistic and unattainable. They quickly lost the respect and credibility of the team.
Working through a pandemic is no different. Rather than leaders pushing for more, show them how. Connect the dots for them. Their environments have been turned upside down, yet the expectations in some cases remain the same.
Lead with vulnerability, build trust and empathy with your team. Show them how it is done, even if what you are doing is not perfect. You become more relatable when you normalize failures and that you too are learning.
Too often, leaders want to come across as knowing everything, that is not creating a humanized experience. You are seen as a robot that nobody can relate to.
What lessons have you learned from working remotely?
For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.
Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.