A Guide to Culture During Covid-19 and Beyond

As many companies have started working from home, I continue to hear questions like:

  • How do we lead right now?
  • Do you have a playbook?
  • How often should we hold meetings?
  • How do we keep morale up?
  • How do you get employees to be more engaged and productive?

And all the others you’re likely asking yourself too.

So, I’ve put together a simple playbook. And, if you’d like to chat more about other ideas or how to implement these, please reach out to me: aj@getyourshine.com

To help you activate, I’ve created an acronym for this: S H I N E (but of course this is the word…because I want to help you Get Your Shine.)

S = Show Vision

You guessed it, this is about vision. It’s also about innovation, and leading people towards the future. Start with making sure the future is clear. It’s good to reaffirm what you’re working towards as a company. We often don’t hear it enough (or, it’s not clearly articulated…which is a whole other thing we can talk about later.) Make sure your vision is defined and redefined during this time. It’s also smart to recognize the impact your business has on society right now and how you can and will seek to make a difference. As people juggle ‘the new normal’ this approach will help teams see past the challenge and look for the opportunity, which can help to inspire more work.

  • define focus
  • be honest
  • clear the future
  • explain relative impact
  • encourage possibility

H = Helpful Leadership

I could also say it’s honest leadership. Which, as I mentioned above is important. As leader, while it’s your job to protect, it’s also your job to be clear and truthful (to the extent that you can.) But, helpful is appearing more important right now to me. Because, empathy is key. You need to know what people are going through to help them manage their time, stress, and output. And, you’re likely able to internalize their feelings because you’re probably having the same ones. While you seek to make sure your teams can follow through on deadlines, push yourself to find out how to put the pieces together in ways that support individual’s new problems to help them find solutions. Be agile and streamline process when you can. People are overly tapped with new obligations so provide freedom for it. And, make sure you manage your ego and pick up and do more than you usually do if you’re capable of it. Stress is at an all time high, and it’s ever so important to provide freedom when you can right now.

  • understand agility
  • empathy is key
  • manage ego
  • establish process
  • short & consistent 1:1s

I = Internal Comms

There’s never been more of an important time to have always-on internal communications than now. You must learn to do it well and do it often. If you don’t have an internal comms team or person, get one. Perhaps if you’re finding people who can’t work on their usual roles but can see they have the skills for this role (if you need advice on what those are, ask me), propose to them they do this for now to help. Use your channels wisely – whether that’s a newsletter, emails, Slack, etc. You want to build a framework for understanding what messaging should go into each and when and find scalable and repeatable ways to deliver messaging. Beyond internally, find ways to share your message externally if it’s appropriate, so your company can be a part of the conversation, especially if it showcases your good will and support during this time.

  • if you don’t have, establish
  • use channels wisely
  • share and celebrate wins
  • create relevance to the given moment
  • highlight people in the organization to build team

N = Nuture Community

You’ve established a community of people, so don’t stop. You’ve focused on hiring people for certain reasons, all moving in similar ways to something greater, so it’s important to not loose what makes that special. Create consistency to things that build your community. It might be specific meetings you have in the company. Or, if there are events you normally celebrate, don’t miss them – do them virutually, and if you’re able, create fun ways to experience them (like creating Zoom backdrops for people to use that day.) Many business offer free coffee – send everyone a small gift card to support a local delivery service and tie it back to that cultural activity so it reminds them of their community. Challenges are at an all time high, so why not create one specific to your culture and get the company to compete in a healthy way. And, it’s important for everyone to stay healthy, so inspire a dedicated workout time for every employee to step away from their computer and take a refreshing break.

  • create consistency
  • surprise & delight
  • virtual events
  • company all-hands
  • fun competitions

E = E-Meetings

It’s important to keep people connected right now. And the best way to do that is with video. The more it’s used, the more it will become ‘normal.’ Inspire your organization to turn their videos on too – it defeats the purpose when eveyrone is only on audio. If you have standing meetings, keep them, but try to find ways to shorten the time. Many people are tapped and trying to balance work and life in ways they never have before, so a little time back goes a long way. Make sure agendas are clear and provide recaps for efficiency. If someone can’t make it, or if someone was distracted by a child, or if there’s a crisis at home, these will help people prioritize and stay on track. Try and break things up and host one meeting for fun each week. When appropriate, increase acknowledgement that if people need to leave early from a meeting they can. And, there’s never been a better time to focus on the whole concept of, did it really need to be a meeting or could it have been an email.

  • keep people connected
  • videos over calls
  • maintain standing meetings, but shorten if possible
  • clear agendas for efficiency
  • make one meeting a week a fun one, such as a happy hour or catch-up hour

Follow the SHINE approach to increase employee engagement and maintain and grow your culture now. If you’d like more insight or tools, please email me to chat: aj@getyourshine.com