Opinion | Mihaela Feodorof (Performanceway): HR Leaders in the new reality

Mihai Cristea 26/10/2020 | 14:14

For the first time in 11 years after leaving the corporate environment, this pandemic has made me think of what could have been had I still occupied the HR position over thousands of employees. Besides the legislative challenges related to the rational paradigm, I truly believe that the responsibility towards the safety of my employees and the overall business would have undoubtedly been my utmost central focus. As a business and soft issues consultant for my organizational clients, we witness together various realities depending on the industry and their specific activities. Here are some experiences I want to share with you.

By Mihaela Feodorof, Executive Coach and Business Consultant Performanceway

 

The first conclusion I have reached after the shock of my first coaching sessions was that no company has remained untouched by this pandemic and its effects, regardless of place or industry. Indeed, that is because the human resource is among the most critical assets for business. This physical vulnerability reminds us to take great care of our human resources so that to ensure the sustainability of the businesses.

The leadership role, desired by the employee and evaluated by the employer, is globally challenged by the same disturbing factor for the first time in the last 50 years. A leader’s absence or contribution is best revealed in extreme conditions, regardless of whether we are talking about wars, recessions or any other events that may unbalance the status-quo.

During the state of emergency or alert generated by this pandemic, I have identified several reactions and measures intended to reduce the side effects of the crisis or contribute to a better management of the different situations generated by this pandemic.

 

Reactions

Fear of the unknown, change of paradigm, lack of any benchmarks when dealing with unexpected situations. Solution: constant, coherent, transparent and tailor-made communication with teams, employees and all the management levels.

I mainly discovered that leaders triggered their human side, an element skillfully hidden so far under the curtain of efficiency and good practices. I discussed with the humanized side of the leader who showed his compassion and understanding for every situation any of his employees might be going through – from behaviors generated by stress and panic to personal life-related difficulties one may be facing.

Inadequate resource management – time management, technology, personal and professional life balance. Solution: company’s ability to adapt to its resource, tailor-made counseling and communication with the direct management on the specific problem. A constantly adjusting process, from tasks adjusting to the new conditions to psychological support for the employees. I noticed a visible effort to ensure the working conditions from a technological standpoint, as well as a more attentive approach of every single situation: reduced/adjust working time or in different time slot, individual or small team psychological support, more time for one-to-one discussions.

 

Nevertheless, after 6 months of remote or hybrid business running activities, the effects are obvious. Many of my organizational clients are worried about decreasing engagement patterns noticed in different forms. The obstacles encountered by the employees reduce their focus on professional duties, no matter the effort one puts into preventing such behaviors. Starting schools and universities, lowering budgets, fear of the negative effects the recession might have on the industry one activates in, and, subsequently, one’s job and financial security will leave a mark on an employee’s performance levels.

Correspondingly, I noticed a cohesion at the leadership team level to identify the best custom-made solutions which necessary to improve the energy and trust within a group/community/organization. All the intervention group actions sent this message: We have been through this before, in different forms, let’s do it again! The leaders become the rescuers who commit themselves to analyze and perform with clarity and consistency, thus ensuring smaller or larger successes.

The essence of leadership translates into trust – people’s willingness to follow their leader either in order to reach the targets or simply because they feel safe in their companionship. This feeling ensures the peace of mind necessary to act better. This is what I have noticed during this period in the companies I’ve been working with.  A cohesion expressed with no doubt.

“Cleaning” the teams of “replaceable” members is also part of this paradigm. In difficult times, the soft skill is the star. Loyalty, team spirit, unconditional support from both sides form the boat that will cross the company over this ocean of uncertainty.

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