Photo credit @pranabyjonesie

Before the pandemic hit, Dr. Lisa Leit, PhD, MCC, founder of Happy Whole Human (HWH), was helping corporations by improving the climate and assisting employees in creating goals that would ultimately lead to an improvement in health and happiness. Now that restrictions are lifting, CEO’s are once again asking Dr. Leit and her team for advice in regards to how they can support their employees as they return to work. Dr. Leit elaborates, “With COVID restrictions lifting, managers are finding themselves in very intricate positions. With the ever-changing expectations in managerial roles, in part because of the pandemic, managers have even more responsibility because they are expected to lead with patience and support their team.”

Dr. Leit adds, “This can feel overwhelming, like now there’s this extra red tape that wasn’t there before. Which doesn’t mean managers don’t want to support their employees. It just means they’ve accepted the responsibility of taking on a more personal interest in the health of their employees, both physically and mentally.” Dr. Leit makes this suggestion, “The best thing managers can do for themselves is to set goals with their team members, and when things get tough, remind yourself and each other that you are working towards a common goal and are there for support.” Because the role of a manager has shifted so drastically since the pandemic, Dr. Leit is providing us with six tips to guide managers during this tumultuous time.

Have compassion with yourself, your team, and your bosses as you figure things out.

Dr. Leit reminds us that this situation has never happened before. She explains, “Not to sound cliche, but you and your team are, in a sense, starting over. It’s almost like you’re all new employees. People are stepping out of their comfort zone to enter the workforce again. Some are starting new jobs, some are working from home, and some are moving up and taking on more responsibility. It’s a given that everyone is grappling with loss, uncertainty, and stress. So, my advice is just to try to have compassion and tread-softly.” 

Ask questions and listen…you don’t know what people are dealing with. Rather than talking to people…try checking in with them.

“Be thoughtful when approaching co-workers or team members with any concerns. If you notice that someone is struggling, check in and ask them what you can do to help. You certainly want to address things that aren’t working, but how you deal with it can build or erode trust. We all know being a manager comes with some authority, but that doesn’t mean you’re constantly giving direction and reprimanding employees. I’ve seen this kind of miscommunication happen in many professional environments. This leads to a toxic work culture and high turnover. Not only does it hurt the employees, it doesn’t look good for the person in charge.” 

Be empathetic…change is hard. Just expect that many people will be experiencing post-pandemic stress symptoms. 

Dr. Leit continues, “I just want to restate that roles are changing in the workplace. Things are still not the way they were pre-pandemic, and it’s likely they never will never be. No one really knows what the lasting effects will be. We do know that everyone was affected in one way or another. Almost no one is going to get out of the pandemic unscathed.” Show you care without overstepping, you are not their therapist. Have resources readily available. The last thing you want to do is take your managerial role past the point of professionalism and make someone feel uneasy. Yes, you want to check in and be supportive, but this has to come from a place of professionalism. Remind your co-worker or team member that you set a goal, and that you want to support them in accomplishing that goal.” If there are deeper issues than that, assure them that those can be addressed, but only by a qualified professional.Try giving  them direction, like what they should pay attention to at that moment. Dr. Leit clarifies, “Part of your job as a manager is to communicate clear guidelines and goals for the organization. You need to be able to answer any questions or concerns your co-workers may have, and then redirect them to the common goal.  Make sure that your team is staying focused. If you see someone struggling, help them set clear, measurable, and professional goals.”  

Lead by example and take care of yourself! 

Dr. Leit emphasizes, “You cannot take care of anyone else, until you have taken care of yourself. Make sure you convey this to your team, but be careful not to sound condescending. Self-care isn’t just taking one deep breath. That’s why HWH offers an array of techniques that are scientifically proven for self-care. We’ve all seen generic self-help techniques in the workplace make a mockery of the real issues people face.” Dr. Leit ends by saying, “Managers are role models and advocates for their employees. They must care for themselves first in order to help their team be successful.”