I was recently asked a great question:
How do I create value and meaning that my boss will recognize?
Now, that’s a great question in regular, normal circumstances and an even better question as we navigate together the Covid-19 crisis! We have all been handling this crisis for a number of months now and I know a lot of us are tired and want it to be over. One challenge a lot of people are facing is that of working from home. Or, perhaps you are back at the office, but your colleagues aren’t there. Or, maybe you are an essential worker and have continued working through all of this challenging time! Whatever your situation, teams are facing challenges that they haven’t had to face before. This can bring with it disconnection and insecurities can rise to the surface, but I have something that will help you and your team to overcome these challenges! I want to share with you 4 ways you can grow in your communication at work, which will actually increase your value and in turn, your confidence, your connection with your team and your results, during this time!
Communication, communication, communication!
With some of us working at home still, communication is even more important! I strongly recommend having regular and direct communication with your boss. Or if you lead a team, with your direct reports. Set clear guidelines and expectations for these connections. Take time at the beginning or the end of your meeting to reach out to people. (Even on Zoom!) When we carve out time to genuinely ask people “How are you doing?” and then actually create space for people to share, it deeply encourages people and builds trust in your working relationships! If you do this, I think you will see a tremendous difference in how people relate with you.
Grow in Empathy
Philippians 2:4 says this: Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Take a moment to put yourself in your co-worker, direct report or even your bosses shoes – take the time to think about what other people are going through. Maybe they have their kids running around while they work, perhaps they are finding it hard not being with each other at work and are wondering what people are feeling. Or, are they worrying about their family, or having a hard time home-schooling? What is the reason that their performance might be lacking? If we take the time to think about others we have this ability to care for them in a different way and have more compassion for them. It doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable or have metrics or priorities not met, it just means we think about them in a different way, which works to increase the connection and brings the best of people to the surface!
Ask great questions
As you are navigating Covid and working from home, or in different circumstances than usual, don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you’re worried about something, go ahead and ask the question either by text, email or phone – whether it’s to your direct report or your boss. Over time, I have found that people can make things up in their mind about what another person is thinking or feeling – be intentional to break those preconceived notions by not making assumptions and instead asking great questions! That way you have actual truth to deal with, rather than a story you may have made up in your head! The more trust you build in these times, the more value in the relationship will grow. Clear communication is really the way!
Be willing to crave feedback
Some great questions that demonstrate you are open to feedback are these: How am I doing? Is there anything I can do better? Do you see anything in my performance that I can improve on? Just like those strange people who actually love broccoli and exercise because they love being physically healthy (I admit it, I’m one of those people), people that want to grow in their communication and ultimately in their working relationships recognize that healthy feedback and accountability are among the most critical protective elements in every connection and the areas where we perhaps demonstrate honor and value most in our relationships.
I want to leave you with a scripture that I keep coming back to at this time when I think about the challenges we are all learning to navigate. It is Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
This has given me great strength and courage during this time and I hope it gives you strength and courage too as you seek to grow in your communication, to bring increase to your value, meaning and relationships at work. We can take courage in the Lord that He has a plan and purpose for your life and through tragedy and crisis He is going to use it for your good, including at your work!