- I wish we had done a better job of sticking with community building with weekly all-hands or town halls. I worry culture will start to fray.
- It’s important for me to see you, for you to see me and that you’re ok and I’m ok and we’re getting business done.
- What struck me is that all of us are really looking for anchors and safe harbors during this time.... Until this time, though, I didn’t really see the company—or a company, an employer—as necessarily filling that role for people. But people are looking for us to fill that role. Every day, I try to call three to six people, just to check in, just to say hi, see how they’re doing. I wouldn’t necessarily have done that before.
- Acknowledgments have to be much louder. Giving someone credit at an-all hands in person is much different than on Zoom. Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that success and achievements are especially acknowledged in a time like this.
- How to maintain culture and connectivity on Zoom is something you have to learn. . . Managers have to be inclusive and take extra care to make sure all voices are heard.
- The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past…It is absolutely remarkable that we have over 70,000 people working remotely and keeping a very complicated $1.7 trillion balance sheet bank functioning...people are doing it from their kitchens.
- It’s definitely overrated...The temptations of staying home and listening to music and going in the garden and going shopping, and cooking or reading an interesting book suddenly—they eat into the working time.
- Wondered what they were doing when they weren’t at the office, but the productivity has been off the roof, so I need to just trust them. If they say they’re working at home, they’re working at home.
- One thing we talk about is mental fatigue. I talk about the brain as a muscle. I’m pushing my people to say: Take a break. Put in a lunch hour. Cut yourself off at five o’clock.
- There’s no such thing as too much communication...
- In any business you get used to operating at a certain cadence, and then all of the sudden when the world around you is changing as fast as it was, you have to kind of pick up your feet way faster and make changes much, much more quickly.
- In this time of ambiguity, you have to be open to learning. Because if you don’t learn, you don’t know how to adapt.... Being transparent, being inquisitive are good ingredients.
- I’ve always thought leadership meant I was right there and frankly, I think I get on my staff’s nerves sometimes. I probably had some control issues myself . . .
1. The Wall Street Journal provided short sound bites. Longer interviews with each business leader would have probably been more informative and more representative of each leader's thinking about lessons learned.
2. The main themes were about remote work: maintaining culture and maintaining productivity. Sustaining culture in the absence of in-person interactions is tougher. Working remotely is different from being in the workplace. While communication is important, there could be too much communication. Some supervisors have difficulty finding the balance.
3. The comments about productivity are not surprising but for me they were somewhat disappointing. In companies that value people, the employees will get the job done. There is nothing sacred about the 8-hour day or the hours in which work gets accomplished (unless there are structural issues, e.g., customers and such during certain hours). Research supports that for many jobs there is no differences in productivity between the 6-hour day and the 8-hour day. The attitude that people working at home would be less productive reminds me of McGregor’s Theory X way of thinking about people.
4. Introspection, reflecting about oneself, should be a characteristic of leaders. For most of us, the pandemic has brought moments in which we ponder issues that we are usually too busy to think about. Now is a good time to pull back, create a space in our days to reflect on where we are, where we are going, what our priorities are, what our priorities should be.
“What I Learned from the Pandemic” (June 27-28, 2020). The Wall Street Journal.
Image, "Growth" by Gerald. Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/growth-suit-work-bank-economy-453485/ Free to use.
© John Ballard, PhD, 2020. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Ron Riggio, Book Review, Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Now also available as an audiobook and paperback.