Clients are asking me, "How can we keep morale up in our firm?" It starts with you:
Take care of yourself. When you're fatigued and worried, your stress and worries impact your colleagues and employees and they become less creative, less productive. Your diet and exercise are more important now, not less. Breathe deeply - it's known to release stress, improve thinking and prolong life. Take a break (or several) during the day, whether it's to walk around the block, read something light or stare out the window. Seek sounding boards and counsel from business advisors, colleagues, family and other counselors when appropriate. Don't try to carry the entire load yourself, but do ask for and accept help when it's needed. Smile, not because fake smiles hide worries, but because smiling changes your brain's circuitry, makes you feel better and makes those around you feel better.
Prepare for the worst and expect the best. It's an old saw, but it's still true. Study your situation thoroughly and prepare yourself, your practice and your firm for alternative courses and outcomes. Once you and your leadership team have made decisions and preparations based on your best knowledge, innovative thinking and educated guesses, expect the best. It isn't burying your head in the sand, it's choosing to be as confident and positive as possible in order to reassure and engage those around you, while being honest and open about information and your decision-making.
Be visible virtually and communicate openly. Your presence, though virtual, has never been more important. It's incumbent on you as a leader to convey the vision and values of your firm in both words and actions. If you hide in your home office without communicating - something managers are prone to do in difficult times, especially if they're introverted by nature - people will become more frightened and rumors will become uglier. Instead, be visible virutally and communicate openly, honestly and often. Acknowledge the challenges and tell people what you're doing to address them. Don't make promises you might not be able to keep, but do show your confidence in everyone's ability to weather the storm. And be sure people know they can freely reach out to you.
Engage and support your people. Are motivation and engagement the same thing? Not quite, but they're closely related and motivation leads to engagement, which leads to higher productivity. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, people are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose. People are willing - perhaps even want - to be held accountable, but want some control over the way in which they do their work (Autonomy). Extensive research from Gallup tells us people want the opportunity to do what they do best every day and Pink tells us people want to keep getting better and better every day (Mastery). Pink and others remind us that people want to do something that has meaning greater than themselves (Purpose). You can engage people by replacing rules with outcome accountability where possible. Even while people are working from home, you can help people utilize and develop their best strengths and talents. Finally, you can emphasize the values and purpose of your organization and its commitment and contribution to its employees, clients and community.