Our elected officials have put up the “open for business” sign and we’re heading back to the office!
You’ve just heard the news and whilst there’s some relief, it is combined with a little voice in your head saying “here we go again”.
The momentary feeling of regaining some control and that you’ve “made it” through the WFH phase is suddenly overtaken by the knowledge that you are entering a new lesson in mastering the COVID-19 dance.
Now here come those feelings of apprehension, fear, and self-doubt. “Am I going to be able to make a success of this?” is one question you ask yourself. To be successful here you are expected to be nimble enough on your feet to master the next “dance of management” phase when your choices of direction will be vital to the success of the transition of humans back into the office and the health of the business.
You may have been frequently feeling frustrated in this time of “business unusual” as you are making up new dance moves on the fly and not everything goes to plan. This is what happens in unprecedented times. Every time you thought you had a clear line of sight, you end up with two left feet and trip up.
The secret to successfully managing a transitioning back into the office is to learn some new ways to master the dance of management. The great managers have more than one dance move in their repertoire. They are nimble, adaptable, agile and self-aware enough to quickly switch from a two-step to the tango in order to move with the beat of rapid change.
I call it situational management. Having the awareness in the moment and change your management style in an instant to move with the beat of change that is happening right in front of you.
In my first book, Being Human, I share six management styles that I’ve witnessed over 20+ years in the business world.
I’ve outlined in more detail four of these that will give you to dance moves to successfully transition back to the office:
1. SuperHuman – Short Term 24/7 Bursts
There are times when its “go, go, go” and you need to put on your cape and just perform superhuman acts. I’m sure you felt this as COVID-19 got real, WFH became a necessity, there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day and you were in a fight for personal and business survival.
You are working long hours, making quick decisions on limited information and just keeping up with the minute by minute change.
These management dance moves are critical in times of uncertainty when short deadlines become even shorter and your very survival is linked to your ability to grind out hour after hour, day after day.
2. Human – Emotionally Invested and Human Focus First
We humans need to make sense, feel connected and a sense of belonging and this is particularly so in times of constant stress.
This is one of the most critical dance moves to master. The ability to provide direction, protection and order for the humans you are privileged to have under your care. When WFH became the “new normal”, we all got exposed to the human side of those we work with.
We saw employees as humans at home, learned about their pets and kids, took time to have Friday drinks and regularly checked in and asked “how are you feeling?”. This will be as important to do this on the way back to the office. It’s is a dance we must put at the top of our list.
3. Robot – Absolutely Follow The Rulebook
hilst we are opening up for business again, this comes with elements of risk that need to be mitigated so we don’t see a spike in cases of COVID-19. This is where the dance of the Robotic manager is important.
Creating and enforcing rules of how humans will interact in work spaces, deconstructing hot desking and rearranging breakout areas will be some of the processes that might make some feel like were living in some kind of dictatorial world. Hold your nerve here. At times we need to follow the rulebook in order to stay alive. This is one of those times.
4. Tyrant – Sometimes management isn’t a Democracy
It’s no good being a little “both ways” as we open for business and move back to offices.
Sometimes you have to be unpopular and rule with an iron fist. This dance will be especially important in the early days of being back in the office. Give an inch and some will take a mile. That’s why people were getting fined for not complying with social distancing laws. Some thought it draconian. Sometimes draconian is the only way.
This should be a short dance to set the scene for what’s expected. Don’t dance here for too long or the employees will live in fear.
It’s time to take the lead as you move into the next phase of the dance.
The important thing is to learn a few management dance moves and trot them out at the appropriate time.