Over the past eight months I have been reading a ton on how to take care of teams online or in the work place, how to support them amidst a pandemic, how to create engaging meetings, how to transfer those meetings online, how to offer your team emotional and well being support and many many other great ideas. There is one thing I have not found so often and that is the fact that good leaders support the organisation by paying attention to the individuals on their teams. Any team for sure has slackers and working bees, the ones who pull the cart alone and if leaders don’t pay attention to see the real picture here, address the slackers and support cart pullers, they will be left with … you guessed it, the slackers. And not because the ones who do the real work will become resentful and leave (though they might …), if they are are pulling on the cart the way they are it is clear there is something else that moves them than praise. They will be overwhelmed and break down.
Looking around at many organisations, there is a common theme: there are people who take initiative, take it upon themselves to do everything it takes for the greater good and the tendency is that they get more and more and more thrown their way. It is not the job of a leader to start pulling the cart themselves but it is their job to look and see who is really pulling, who has been pulling for a long time and who is also pulling carts that are not their own to carry. The job of a leader is to look at the organisation from a big picture view and address lack of balance, looking for gaps in staffing or staffing attitude and working to bridge those.
It is especially in times of crisis that a leader of any small team or large organisation will see precisely who are the people they can count on and the people who are in the office to make a buck and go somewhere in the morning. And it is a leader’s job to approach each group in different ways, talking to one about personal well being and sharing the load and to the other about getting off their bums and helping pull the cart. Doing this will not only push more workers to do their job (or vacate the place for someone who is looking for a job – these days the work market has really shifted) but will also show the hard workers that they are seen, that their effort matters and that their exhaustion is taken into account.
Leaders, never underestimate your role and power of an overseer of the hive, the importance of your paying attention to bees and bumble bees and balancing the work so that your systems don’t collapse and all the hard work goes to waste.