Inclusive Talent Management During Times of Uncertainty
At Paradigm, we partner with clients to build inclusive and objective talent management processes, which are crucial for building a company where employees from all backgrounds can thrive. While everyone is working hard to manage the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and also adjusting to remote work, it’s imperative to prioritize inclusion when managing teams. Managers should consider these tips:
Acknowledge challenges that exist, and help your team prioritize. Be kind to your employees during this exceptionally stressful time. Reset expectations by recognizing that it may not be feasible to be fully productive with everything going on in the world and, importantly, that this is understandable. Help team members focus their energy on the most critical tasks, keeping in mind unique barriers that each employee might face (whether they have dependents at home, concern about high-risk family or friends, fear because they are high-risk, anger and/or worry about the disproportionate impact on their racial or ethnic group, economic barriers that make working from home difficult, fear of increased racism against their community, or something else). In some cases, this might mean postponing non-essential projects or redistributing work.
Set clear expectations and norms. Especially if you aren’t accustomed to managing a distributed team, it can be challenging to strike the right balance of oversight and autonomy. To create an environment where everyone on the team is set up for success, set clear expectations for your team and align on working norms. For example, you might encourage the use of shared calendars that show availability and let the team know when someone needs to be away to support self-care or caregiving needs. Regular check-ins can also help you keep track of important projects and also remind your team that you’re available to help problem solve and/or support them during this difficult time.
Be mindful of how you distribute work. Focusing on opportunity equity is more important now than ever, when teams that might be underutilized or less visible face a higher risk of layoffs. Consider who is chosen for unique or high priority projects, who is not, and why. Articulate your criteria for who will get opportunities, and push yourself to stick to those criteria each time you make a decision. Write down your reasons for choosing a specific team member, and keep track of these decisions over time. If you think you’re applying the criteria consistently but you’re finding that marginalized groups are still given less opportunity, dig deeper to find the root cause and resolve it.
Connect with all team members. During stressful times, it’s common to gravitate toward people similar and closest to you. This can impact your ability to provide support and coaching to your entire team. Remind yourself to connect with every one of your team members, and set up regular check-ins and growth conversations to make sure everyone is being supported.
Ask your employees how you can support them. It’s important to listen to employees and understand what your teams need for success. Our Director of Data Science and Research recently wrote a blog about the three things that matter most for inclusive, effective remote work—shared resources, information, and identity—and how to survey employees around each. Identify how you can cultivate each of these with your team, and the most productive channels. For example, some teams enjoy having quick virtual huddles (be sure to make the appropriate timing adjustments if your team is spread across time zones). Others might enjoy virtual coworking time with peers. There are plenty of other options, asking each of your team members what they need is the right place to start.
Uncertain times magnify the importance of managers setting clear expectations and providing the support employees need to thrive. As you continue prioritizing your company’s talent management needs during this difficult, stressful time, remember to be kind to your teams and to yourself.
If you’d like further support or want to learn more about how we’re partnering with our clients during this pandemic, don’t hesitate to reach out.
April 24, 2020