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  • Writer's pictureChris Templeton

Leading Through The Pandemic, Part 2

Join Carin Hewitt, Heather Piazza and Chris Templeton in Part 2 of our podcast where we discuss leading through the pandemic.

These times have the ability to create outstanding gains in leadership when we look at our organizations through this new lens.\


Chris Templeton 0:00

Welcome back to The engage collective podcast where we're talking about the importance of strong leadership, and responding to COVID-19. What your strategies should be for redefining your business. We want to thank you for being here and encourage you to provide your feedback on what we've had to say give us ideas on what you think we ought to be talking about. And we hope that you find this just all around valuable. In our last podcast, we talked about the importance of articulating a solid plan moving forward and how to do it best in terms of including employees and helping everybody to have a solid sense of ownership and moving forward through these tough times. Today, what we're going to talk about is the importance of frequent and ongoing communication. As a leader in your organization.

I want to welcome Carin Hewitt, and Heather Piazza, as well as myself, Chris Templeton, co founders of the engaged collective. Thanks, you guys for being here. Let's talk about the importance of open and honest communication. We talked about it a little bit in terms of articulating a plan. But what does that look like moving forward, as we've talked about what the plan is for moving our organization forward? Why is this type of communication more important now than ever?

Heather Piazza 1:37

Only because we're all working from home right now. Right? The majority of us are working virtually, for those of us that have worked virtually from the beginning, it provides itself with its own unique opportunities and challenges, as we are now working with a whole workforce that seems to be working from home. What I just personally and working with some of my business, my clients, it's been, the less during the weeks when we have less communication, the more isolated and working within a silo, we feel. It's definitely helpful to sit down and have a meeting, if not two meetings every week. And it doesn't have to be a zoom call, sometimes it's just a phone call. But the touching base via text or email isn't always helpful. So opening up those lines of communication where you're actually speaking to each other and hearing each other's voices, I think it provides not only a good way to have that one on one communication, where you're going back and forth, but also hearing each other's voices brings a whole nother level to not feeling isolated and not feeling alone as we're all making our way through this.

Carin Hewitt 2:56

Yeah, absolutely. And, and keeping people from being fearful. Because I think right now, there's a lot of fear, you know, it's fear of what's going to happen with my family, am I going to get sick, you know, fear of going out? And do I have the proper mask? And the, you know, there's all those kinds of fears? And then there's also the fear of is my job going to be available to me? And what is my future going to look like? And I think one of the things that's been really interesting about this experience, in talking with other people, it seems to be a common feeling is that we kind of don't know what our future looks like, and which is really different than we mostly like, we never know what's going to happen in the future. We can't control it. But at the same time, there's always like, Well, we know it's generally going to look like this. Now it's kind of like, Huh, what is this really going to look like? And I think we need to make sure that we we are communicating with people regularly and being honest about how that's, that's the truth of right now. And and our employees need to hear that from us that this is uncertain times. that these are the steps we're trying to make to make it as certain as we can and to make it as stable and as quote unquote, normal as we can. But the truth is that this is not normal times.

Chris Templeton 4:18

It really brings up this whole idea, though, of what level of transparency of honesty I should have in my communications with my management team, my employees, I think it's very easy to go down the road of you know, I'm just gonna put on the best face that I can and move forward and and try to handle these things on my own. Obviously, we we don't recommend that. Our previous podcast we talked about the importance of you know, having a plan and articulating it and hopefully including management and employees in it. Why is this so important? Now, this honesty, this transparency that we're suggesting,

Heather Piazza 5:04

I think we have a lot of junk in our heads right now, to be quite honest, I don't know about you guys, but my brain is completely full. And it's not necessarily full of all the good things. It's full of everything. And it's trying to keep track of my business and my relationship with my husband and how I'm handling things with my kids and their school. And, oh, by the way, we have guinea pigs in a dog and a house and a mortgage. And it's everything. And what happens if my business fails, what happens if my husband loses his job, it's all these other you know, what happens if we get sick, and we really get sick, that we're not one of those that are asymptomatic, that would be amazing. But who can count that. So it's trying to stay healthy and follow the rules. It's all of those things, right, and then worrying about each other. So one of the techniques that I employ when talking to people, and these are in one on one conversations, and in group sessions, too, is just doing a 10 minute event. And so say you have an hour long conference call set aside, that the first 10 minutes is let it go. Just It doesn't matter what it is that you need to get off your chest. And if you've got multiple people in front of you take turns, everybody share one or two things, just get it off your chest. And then that next 15 minutes can be so over productive. It's unbelievable. Every time I do this with somebody, it's so much more productive, because we're getting the negative out of our heads. So we can be clear and focused on what we need to do.

Chris Templeton 6:44

We've done quite a bit of that as engaging active, haven't we? Absolutely. And at this point in time, it's been something that's been probably as productive in terms of, it's not necessarily productive in and of itself. But your point about, it kind o f opens us up to moving on getting it out and moving on, doesn't it,

Heather Piazza 7:07

think of it like a warm up before a workout, right? It's working on all that. lactic acid, all that bad stuff that keeps you on that like tight muscles, so that you can get to work and make it negative productive workout. So this is the same thing. It's letting go the things that are keeping you stressed and tight, and uncreative and unfocused, letting that go. And it doesn't have to be about work, it could be about family, or you're not getting along with your spouse, or it could be whatever. But again, it brings an element of humaneness back into the conversation, it allows, especially if you're doing an a group, we're not alone in this, we've got maybe similar circumstances or things you can relate to to each other. And I actually think when you do this, especially in a group setting, it creates stronger teams, because you're starting to harvest that ground for empathy for each other, and almost building a family in a way. So this is an outcome, a positive outcome of something that's negative, right?

Carin Hewitt 8:13

Yeah, it creates that connectedness. It's funny because I've always, in my own leadership style, and in working with my clients always encouraged in an agenda. I'm a big fan of using good facilitation tools. And part of those facilitation tools is is geared towards being productive and making productive meetings, but always including a check in in the beginning of a meeting. And asking people and I actually have to kind of discourage my clients from making that check in about their work. I say no, no, they check in is about how employees are doing on a personal level. And the employees can struggle with that. Like they're if they're not used to putting their own personal lives into the into the meaning I've been sitting in on a on a zoom meeting with one of my clients and their team. And I've watched over time, that employees are starting to get more comfortable with sharing what's going on with them personally. And you're exactly right, Heather, it is creating a sense of connectedness and family. And this team in the last even though they're completely remote, they haven't seen each other and since middle of March. They're closer right now than they ever were when they were working right in each other's environments.

heather 9:34

Yeah, I'm seeing that too.

Chris Templeton 9:36

Yeah. And talk a little bit about how this leads to trust. And why that trust is so important, especially now.

Heather Piazza 9:49

Well, simply, it's the fact that you're sharing something from your personal world. That in itself, you're saying I trust you. I am saying this out loud. I trust you to share that This information. So it's not that you're explicitly saying I trust you. It's that act of sharing that lends itself to that trust. And and as we all love Rene Brown, it's about that, you know, being vulnerable with the people around you and showing them that you may be suffering or going through similar circumstances, just like the people around you. We're all human, we all have hearts and lungs and blood running through our system, we're all built very much the same way, with very similar issues and to share them. I think that exudes trust us in itself.

Chris Templeton 10:42

And the long term result of that ends up being, like we've talked a little bit about is that we end up having a more engaged team, we're closer now. Because we see our dogs running in and out of the office and our kids asking us questions, or whatever the case may be. It is more personal. And I think that one of the things that we're going to see more than probably we've seen in a long time, if ever is this whole idea of a team, being so much more than a people, a group of people working together, and we get something done, and we got a product, and we take care of our customers that we have. And you know, I've seen it in certain businesses that have, you know, Friday lunch for everybody, that sort of thing. And it's that same idea. Now, we have to do it remotely, at least for the time being, but what a time to really change the dynamic in a way that conserve the whole organization. And, you know, I think it's so critical for leaders to understand that they have the ability to do this, to create the environment, even though it may not happen overnight. And and I think that it would be foolish of us to suggest that, hey, this is going to, it's not going to be a problem, you'll you'll have it done in a week. I mean, I think that this is something that probably you're looking at a month of meetings to get people to be comfortable that you are being honest, and that you do want to understand them and that you are being transparent where you may not have been in in the past. And to have that ability to, for employees and managers to see a whole new light of how we can work together. And I think that can be one of the biggest gifts out of this whole COVID pandemic.

Heather Piazza 12:44

You're asking people to work in a completely different way, you can't imagine that that's going to take place overnight. That takes time.

Carin Hewitt 12:54

I think to that the important thing to acknowledge for maybe leaders who might be watching is that it's not easy to be honest and transparent, that it actually takes courage to do that. Because it means you may put yourself out there. And you may make mistakes, and your employees may see that. And you may have to own that. And and but I think creating that type of culture will lead to your employees feeling more valued by you and feeling more engaged in the work that you're doing. And in the long run, it'll put less work on you as the leader because you now have a team that works together to solve problems rather than everybody looking to you to have the perfect answer, which, as we talked about in the last podcast, we never have always the perfect answer. So I think that that's an important piece of it. And I know we're not talking much about discipline and when we're having employee feedback conversations, but the more we can be honest with our employees on a regular basis, the more we can have those difficult conversations because they know that the employee now knows that it comes from a place of I unders, I hear you, I see you, I know you're a human, I connect to you. And I have to give you this feedback. That's very important for your job. So it kind of helps bridge all of those challenging times when communication can be even more difficult and it takes courage and be honest with employees about how they're doing.

Chris Templeton 14:37

I think another thing that we need to just kind of spend a little bit of time on is if I'm going to as a leader, put myself out there and I'm going to be more transparent and I'm going to be more honest, there are going to be situations where an employee takes something and does something with that information that we don't like and I think this is when we're in those kind of situations where we've put ourselves out there and employees done something, he's talked to somebody who's done something that really kind of hurts that and, and I have a tendency to want to pull back in. And to stop this process, the best thing that we can do is to talk to that person about what they did and what the issue was, and make a commitment to that employee that you're there for them. And you're looking forward to them not doing something like that again, and then having the ability to continue, because if I can show to my people that I had, Jim, who didn't do quite the right thing there, but we're moving forward, and we're going to get better for it, no matter how painful it is, for me as an employee, as the employer or the leader, when I can show my whole team, that I'm not kidding about this, and yeah, there were mistakes made, maybe I shouldn't have said that. But we're gonna move on and be better for this as a result, that can take us to a whole nother level of engagement from everybody, because they see in this tough situation, that as a leader, I am committed to making this work for everybody. It's tough, but boy, boy, if you can do that powerful, powerful stuff.

Heather Piazza 16:24

So I would call that a courageous conversation. And I challenged leaders and employers to dig a little deeper into the incident, the error, the mistake, whatever that may have been, to really understand why that person may have done what they had done. Was it truly an error? There's conversations we had about that, of course, was it them maybe acting out in a way that wasn't appropriate? And in that case, then ask them maybe what else is going on in their world? What is happening, maybe they need that vent session longer than 10 minutes, they need that one on one time to say, you know, hey, my mom is really sick, I'm super worried about her work is not my first priority. I am completely focused on her, I'm really cranky and unhappy, you know, whatever that conversation may be allowing them to share that with you. And being that leader to ask them, What is going on? How can I be supportive? How can I help you? And at the end of it, we need to fix what happens so that it doesn't happen again. What do you need? Do you need time off? Do you need just to be able to get back to work, but you need frequent check ins with me or someone else, you know, do you need to restructure your work time. So if we can be there for each other in that way, I also think you're going to create an incredibly strong organization, because you're looking deeper into the issues rather than just looking surface level. And, man, I gotta discipline this person, because they did not do what they were told they did not follow directions and kind of be in that boot camp later. That is not, it's not going to get you where you want to go.

Chris Templeton 18:12

And if you can, if you can deal with this, the way that we've talked about what a better leader, you're gonna be, like when you have the ability to get through something that's tough and and bring it back around the next time, it's going to be that much easier. And like you said earlier, Heather, then those difficult conversations that I need to have also become easier. And there's bigger trust because I know that I've created an environment where I can have people be honest and transparent all the way around, and also have the ability to deal with a tough situation when it comes up. And employees love knowing that their manager or their leader has the ability to do have both conversations without it becoming a huge eruption of of an event.

Heather Piazza 19:03

Absolutely. And I think it's powerful. It's for you personally, as a leader, that calmness, that stability, that patience, that the ability to reach out to someone in that way. That is powerful stuff.

Carin Hewitt 19:18

The bill it's really comes down to the ability to ask for what we need and the more we are able to do that. I think that building honesty and trust within your you said it Heather earlier it takes being vulnerable. And and when you are vulnerable and you and you ask for what you need, as a leader or as an employee, then you feel so much stronger in your ability to move forward. So

Chris Templeton 19:47

And again, remember that it takes time as leader these things don't happen overnight. But if you know that your end goal is to create an organization where you and your employees are having transparent open discussions. There's trust that's built, there's honesty that goes so much further in the relationship. And again, we have the opportunity to really become a better organization as a result of this crazy time. Okay, we have to wrap up. What would you guys like to wrap up with today?

Carin Hewitt 20:20

You know, I think it's, it's, it's a reminder, to allow ourselves to go on a journey here this is that we're on a journey, we are going to learn things as we go along. It's okay to be learning things as we go along. And it's okay to really engage the people around us to be a part of that journey.

Heather Piazza 20:43

In terms of communication. For me, it comes down to the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated. And when you create and foster a culture like that, that's more person centric, than business centric, meaning income center, I think, sky's the limit. And you can make anything happen at that point with a team of people that really truly support what you do, because of how you do it.

Chris Templeton 21:08

I couldn't agree more honesty, transparency, trust, they all kind of form a triad of the of a foundation for being the most effective we can be as an organization. I want to thank Heather piata Karn Hewitt for doing this engage podcast talking about how to respond to the covid 19 crisis and how to move forward in a way that's going to serve you as a leadership and your team. Overall, we look forward to having you on our next one, where we talk about in more detail, demonstrating care and concern for employees, and helping them navigate this remote work environment and what next steps are going to look like. We hope you found this enjoyable and informative. We look forward to your feedback. Love to hear what you want us to be talking about. And we will see you on the next engage podcast. Take care.

In our last podcast, we talked about the in our last podcast. Okay, we won't put that in there. What are your response strategies and how you can go about redefining your business as a result of what's been going on. Today, we're going to talk about the importance of frequent and ongoing communication and transparency that's built on honesty and trust. And so with that, welcome, everybody. Thank you for being here. We're very pleased to have you. We look forward to having any feedback that you have, and encourage you to let us know what you think of what we've had to say or what you think we ought to be talking about. So before we get going, I think what we ought to do is start by letting the dog out of your

dog. He wants out

Unknown Speaker 23:36

She cannot. I'm putting her way all the way out. All the way up.

Unknown Speaker 23:42

Say, bye.

Chris Templeton 23:43

Bye bye. Okay, so what do you think you ready?

Unknown Speaker 23:47

Oh, I just cracked my neck. Oh, you didn't?

Carin Hewitt 23:53

So much for the nodding.

Chris Templeton 24:00


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