Leadership and culture in challenging times

At times of crisis, it's important that companies maintain their integrity and purpose, alongside doing all they can to support employees. Practically, this can be difficult whilst workers are scattered and have many other priorities and concerns. We spoke to Anne-Marie, Templafy’s Chief People Officer, to discuss how companies can maintain their sense of self alongside being sensitive to what is happening and supporting employees through it.

How is the COVID-19 crisis impacting you personally? 

The crisis is making me more humble and more grateful. In addition, I’ve become far more focused on being generous towards people I don’t know, and not only caring towards the people who are close to me.

What are your priorities for Templafy at this time?  

My priorities are to ensure that people are closely connected and feel well informed, guided, supported and motivated. Really unfolding all aspects of the core of our unique company culture, which is psychological safety.

How can leaders provide psychological safety? 

Integrity and transparency; inclusion and trust; intuition and compassion. 

 

COVID blog with Anna Marie GIF with BG.aep

 

What did Templafy do to make this situation as comfortable as possible?

First and foremost, we’ve focused on empowering people to make their own choice in line with what makes them feel the most comfortable. If they’ve wanted to drop by work, they’ve been welcome to do so, however, if they’ve wanted to only work from home, they’ve also been welcome to do so. If they’ve been feeling sick, then they’ve been advised to stay at home, inform the CISO, CEO and CPO (who have daily follow-up meetings) and observe their development. So, the first thing has been to empower people to make their own decisions. 

Secondly, we’ve ensured we continue to meet up in various groups, such as team morning meetings, various one-to-ones, and weekly gatherings of all leaders to discuss leading through COVID-19. We’ve maintained our weekly All-Hands meeting, which is a global Zoom meeting anyway because we are represented across four different locations. And then we’ve implemented a virtual Friday-Beer-Cheers across all locations which is optional and doesn´t need to involve alcohol, but is about gathering more informally and wishing each other a happy weekend! 

Thirdly, we trust our employees and their ability to succeed and perform, even in a more creative setting while some of them are also taking care of their children. Trust is key – and if you do not trust your employees and their dedication to prioritize when working from home, they´ll sense the distrust and be less productive.  

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What kind of leadership style is required at the moment? 

I see this situation as a unique opportunity to follow our leaders and their ability to lead employees. We had just held a three day leadership seminar targeting self-awareness, trust and differentiated leadership so the timing couldn’t be better for us to use all the tools, awareness and support given. 

All in all, the best kind of leadership style during these times differentiates the needs of each employee, ensures transparency and communication, targets each employee and their individual needs, and shows loads of trust and support framed in authentic care 

Can leaders make a positive difference in challenging times? 

Yes, leaders can indeed make a positive difference. Mindset is key. Leaders should stay focused on objectives, ensure frequent and transparent communication, communicate at eye-level, stay calm, balanced and continue business as usual if possible. As a result, people will adapt quicker to a new everyday reality and have less fear. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” - so fear reduction based upon clear and transparent communication, lots of virtual interaction, trust, care, and support, alongside objectives and consistency in direction, projects etc. are key. 

How can companies make sure they maintain positive energy? 

Offer people various ways to interact, communicate transparently, stick to objectives, trust and show care.  

As a supplement to a busy everyday life with a ton of virtual meetings, we’re doing things like offering virtual Friday-Beers for all locations, book clubs, and Slack channels where we share knowledge or upload fun pictures with a weekly theme. 

Do you think company cultures will suffer as a result of this situation? 

I strongly believe that companies who deviate from their company culture negatively during these times will suffer (if not already suffering). However, companies who walk the (culture) talk no matter the situation they are facing will grow stronger, and also both retain and attract even more talent.

Do you have any practical tips to keep positivity high? 

Use this time to do even more of what’s always been part of the culture and what’s made people happy about going to work. In all aspects, it’s time to do more and not less 

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