This blog was written in March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic.
These are strange times. Working from home. Not meeting face to face. Not feeling the vibes within the teams. Not hearing the interaction between people. Being away from the hallways and coffee machine.
As a leader, how do you keep in touch with your employees? And how to be sure people are working on the right thing? Some things are the same as before the Covid-19 outbreak but need to be a little more intensified.
Stay true to your “why”
What’s your reason for being? Why does your company exist? Simon Sinek states in his book “Start with why” the importance of it. It serves as a compass for everyone working at the company. This “why” is in these times more important than ever. Be clear about it. Communicate it. Be sure everyone knows it.
Rules of combat
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin wrote in “Extreme ownership” the rules of combat.
Keep it simple
One of the rules is “keep it simple”. Be clear about your goals. Make sure everyone understands them. Ask if people understand them. Explain them over and over if you have to. If people don’t know what everyone is trying to achieve, people can go in the wrong direction. And if people are going in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how fast they go. They will never reach the right goal. So to be sure people understand the goal, keep it simple. Do not make the goals unnecessary complicated.
Cover and move
With cover and move I mean, think outside your own bubble. Be sure the teams know what they are working on. Facilitate the communication between teams. So work done by one team doesn’t get in the way of an other team (cover) and the teams can do finish their work (move). Perhaps plan an extra product owner meeting or let senior developers of the teams talk once a week with each other. Also make work visible. Use online tools for your sprint backlog and give everyone access to each others digital board.
Prioritize and execute
Be clear about your priorities. Don’t try to get everything done at once. People can perform at their best if they can focus. Choose what’s most important (prioritize) and get it done (execute). Once again it’s important to communicate about your priority.
Be sure your teams have clear boundaries within they can operate. What can they decide about themselves, what should they come to you for. What do they need to inform you about. What information do you need to facilitate the team. Not every team has the same level of maturity. Act so accordingly. Some teams can have more freedom then others. Communicate clearly about the boundaries within the team can operate.
You have read a few times about communicating things. How can you best communicate? Scrum teams have their daily scrums. Join them. Do not participate, the daily is for the development team, but listen. It gives you a great insight. If you have any questions, ask the team to stick around after the daily. You’ll have the whole team present. If you are not sure if the goals are clear, you can talk about it with the team.
Take some time to talk to individual team members on a regular basis. Not only with the product owner or scrum master but also to developers. Communicating with them often makes it less “special” so people will open up more.
Also ask what people need. How can you as a leader facilitate the team so they can do their work even better. Do not only say “if you need something, you know where to find me” but actively talk to people and ask.
Make use of communication means that support video. Be aware that 80% of non-verbal communication is lost because you are not face to face. So if you sense something, address it. Say if you notice something. Also ask if people understand you. It doesn’t hurt to ask and be sure.
Also we don’t know how long this is going to last. What we do know that it’s going to end. One day we will be back in the office. Building on your relationship with your teams now, will help you after these Covid-19 times are over.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself, stay healthy and never waste a good virus.