Consider this scenario: Senior leadership calls a meeting with management to express their concerns the company might not meet goals set for the year-end crunch due to the pandemic. In a less than polite tone, they convey their extreme dissatisfaction and instruct management to get their teams in gear. Meeting adjourned. You leave thinking, “It’s time for me to be a buffer for my team to keep them engaged and productive.”
As a manager, a large part of your role is to serve as a go between your team and senior leadership. Therefore, you have to communicate the message from senior leadership to your team but how you deliver the message is extremely important.
Be a Buffer
2020 research about the pandemic indicates 53% of our U.S. population is experiencing burnout and stress. Many workers feel more stress now, than ever before. Adding the year-end crunch likely causes these numbers to be even higher. Buffering your team from any fear tactics enables them to be motivated.The job’s not easy but it’s necessary. Doing so can prevent negative effects on productivity, resiliency, trust, and much more.
Here are a few ways to buffer your team from added stress from senior leadership:
As you prepare to relay the message to your team, be mindful. Detach yourself from any lingering emotions from the meeting with senior leadership and focus on the present. Pause and think about your delivery and word choice and how your team might interpret it. Clearly articulate necessary information in an uplifting and positive way without unnecessary emotion.
Be clear on what needs to be accomplished regarding the transfer of information and increasing motivation. Make your year end expectations crystal clear. Review your team's action plan and reanalyze the team’s ability to fulfill it. Can tweaks be made. Can other work be put on hold? Is there a way to optimize individuals’ time? Your team will accomplish more with a streamlined, clear set of outcomes.
Nutrition, exercise, and connectedness all influence an individual’s ability to handle stress. Do your best to encourage your team to take care of themselves so they can give their best at work. Additionally, you might want to try encouraging mono-tasking. Research has shown multi-tasking hurts productivity and increases stress.
Manage Expectations of Senior Leadership
As mentioned, part of a manager’s role is to act as a middle-person between senior leadership and his or her team. It’s important to clearly communicate with senior leadership in order to manage their expectations. The situation above might have been avoided if senior leadership had more accurate projections. There would have been no surprises and no need for the high-tension meeting.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Generally speaking, senior leadership focuses on the macro aspects of the business. It is not their job to know or be aware of all details. Therefore, it’s important to supply them with regular updates that are concise, yet thorough. When they have a clear idea of how the organization is functioning, they can make informed decisions regarding how new commitments or projections coincide with the organization’s ability to handle the extra demand.
Alert and Renegotiate
Communicate at the first sign of trouble, even if that’s when senior leadership initially relays their expectations. Executives do not like surprises. Remember to approach the scenario in a solution-oriented way. Always offer potential ideas to remedy issues while being aware of the future. Is the current situation the result of several failed projects that were given to your team last-minute? If so, negotiate the terms of the lead-time your team requires. Discuss what the last-minute projects need to look like in the future. For example, suggest responsibilities your team can transfer or hold off on so that full effort can be directed to the project.
If you’d like to discuss other ways to manage the expectations of senior leadership or the best way to be a stress buffer for your team during the year-end crunch, contact me.