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Forward to Work: Take “The Compass” to the Next Level 

by: Sarah Marshall
The Experience Architect at humanworks + Senior Manager - Communications/Engagement at BVK
Change after change, guideline after guideline. If you feel overwhelmed by each transition we approach and by your role in guiding employees through them, you’re not alone. But if you’re ready to seize the opportunity to bring your team forward – not back – to work, you’re not alone either. 
In the April Member Resource Group, we shared how our version of a compass has been helping us navigate the impact of COVID-19 both personally and professionally. 
If your role requires you to lead people, influence organization-wide decisions or engage employees at any level, it’s time to take The Compass to the next level and leverage its points to devise your return to work plan. 

Begin & End in Gratitude ⇒ Highlight Your Accomplishments and the Positive Outcomes 

You’ve been surviving. Whether it’s a shift to work at home, new technology, efficiencies in roles, etc., you have learned how your organization can operate in a new, more challenging environment. You’ve also learned how quickly it can adapt. Even more important, you’ve seen what it takes to stay connected across a remote or partially remote workforce. It may not be ideal, but it’s opened new doors to how your organization, people and culture can thrive. There’s a lot of gratitude to be found in uncovering those learnings!
What to do: First and foremost, share the gratitude – with IT, with HR, with employees. Then, document your learnings. What worked? What didn’t work? What should you stop, start or continue? Consider policies, technology, communication practices, engagement efforts, cost-saving measures, and appreciate the lessons learned so far.

Act on Instinct ⇒ Form Your Return to Work Team by Natural Strengths

COVID-19 has led us to a place where all bets are off. Things can change on a dime. What we once thought was impossible or ineffective has maybe even proved to be necessary for your organization to move to the next level. This is your chance to be brave and approach problems with increased creativity. 
What to do: Forget titles and think about what instincts and natural abilities you need to tackle the problems and situations you’re facing right now. Be purposeful as you form teams that will address issues in new ways and bring creative solutions as you tackle return to work areas such as process, policy, property and people. Each problem might need a new set of eyes and instincts, so let go of whatever committee you had in place and activate agile solution-oriented teams for each topic. Use the humanworks Forward to Work planner tool here for guidance as you lay out the team strengths and actions needed. 

Listen & Learn ⇒ Use Data to Drive Decisions

The data you need here doesn’t require biometric screening or lengthy engagement surveys. It requires curiosity and vulnerability. Listening to what’s going on around you is important, but creating more opportunities that give you a chance to listen is mission critical. 
What to do: Ask questions one-on-one. Gather small groups for discussions. Create short pulse checks that can be answered through survey functionality. Deploy your leadership team to listen by setting an expectation of reporting back on a regular cadence. Do all of these simultaneously, and with both your employees and your customers. It’s okay to ease into it and start small, but gathering data in these various ways will enable you to weave the feedback together to understand everything from the big picture to the little things. Then tie those learnings to actions. 


Stay Close ⇒ Build Confidence through 365 Communication

Take stock of your relationships and of your own presence. You’ve spent more time on Zoom the last two months than you thought humanly possible, but are you truly “there?” This may be the most challenging point but if done well, the most effective. Communication that is daily, consistent, collective, proactive and honest creates connection and empower employees to continue making a difference. 
What to do: Be authentic in your communications, every single time. If it wasn’t a requirement pre-COVID, it certainly is now. The authenticity radar of your employees has been perfected over the last few months, so let that, along with your organization’s values, guide you. Be frequent and consistent, even if your communication is short or doesn’t have new information. A daily touchpoint builds trust and inspires the confidence that will lead your employees through yet another transition. Then, once you’re back in the office and things have settled, maintain the frequency and quality. 

Regaining Confidence

As you forge your path using this compass, remember to apply it personally. Practice gratitude, go with your guts, listen to your friends and family and stay close to your loved ones and yourself. When you are on the right path, you’re ready to go forward to work. For additional support, check out the humanworks Regaining Confidence Checklist. See you up ahead!


Sarah Marshall

The Experience Architect at humanworks + Senior Manager - Communications/Engagement at BVK

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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