Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 59: Leading in a New World-Small Changes Make a Big Difference

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
We’re all stumbling through a COVID-19 induced haze. And while we’re definitely not out of the woods yet, we may be occasionally putting on regular pants. You know those with zippers and maybe even a belt if we’re feeling extra fancy. And you know, a maybe even once in a while we’re heading into work, it’s time to figure out this new world of work.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:27
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Okay, so many of you have been working your regular jobs straight through the covid 19 pandemic. And for all of you that have done so and continue to do that, we thank you. Some of you are just beginning to return to work, and others are still working from home. Others of you have been furloughed, and still others have been laid off. This pandemic has left no one unscathed. So I just want to acknowledge, right like there are lots of different situations out there. It’s up ended our lives, our children’s lives, and of course, the lives of those we love and work. So today we’re focusing on the new world of work, and what does it mean for you, and for those you lead, of course, every week, my goal is to help you pursue what matters and especially, we want to help you develop the confidence to lead. And so with the podcast, right, I want to help you develop clarity, right, clarity to lead, curiosity, lead, and community. And each of those three areas really help you to develop the confidence you need to lead. And so with today’s podcast, we are primarily focusing on helping you lead a community. And that as you develop the skills, and strengthen your skills to lead a community, it will really help you solidify and strengthen those skills to lead confidently already doing that in so many ways. And I just want to continue to support you on your path. So let’s get going as we think about So, so many ways. Our lives have changed with the coronavirus pandemic, clearly you don’t need me to tell you this, the way we socialize the way we work, whether we’re working at all, and of course, our freedom to move about

Dr. Melissa Smith 3:06
everything has changed. And the reality is that these changes will likely be in place for quite some time. And you know, I think the hard thing is that some changes, we’ll be here to stay. Now, this isn’t necessarily all bad, right? I mean, sometimes when people think about change, they’re like, Oh, they run for cover, some people just hate change. And even if it’s like awesome change, they don’t care, they don’t like it, they don’t want anything to do with it, I do think some changes will be here to stay. And that’s not all bad. But regardless, we need to, we need to be able to adapt to the changes that we are facing. So today, I really want to help us look at some of these changes and really be proactive about it and kind of think about how we can help you lead your teams well and, and and navigate these changes. So of course the economic impact is likely to be felt for a long time. That’s definitely clear. And you know, in these situations, I think it’s really easy to feel very helpless in the face of such overwhelming changes. And that’s, of course very understandable. because much of what we face is overwhelming it can be but the danger is that we give up in the face of overwhelm that we just we run for cover, right? We curl up in the fetal position. And you know, or we, you know, stick our head in the sand like the ostrich, but the danger is one of helplessness where we just try and wait out the storm. But here’s the thing, the storm is going to be here for a while. And so that approach is very undermining, like, it will not help you, it will not serve you, you’re just going to get battered and beaten. And so we need to help you weather this storm more effectively. And what I want to help you see today is that there’s actually a lot that you can do as an individual. So whether you are leaving at work or home, whether you’re part of a larger team making difficult decisions, in the face of new economic realities, to really face the challenges head on, and weather this storm, wow, I promise you, you can. And the thing is, Small changes can make a big difference. That’s the message for you today, Small changes can make a big difference. And that can seem crazy. Because, right, we’ve got some overwhelming challenges, we can feel really powerless when facing these overwhelming challenges. But we’re not, we’re not powerless, you’re not powerless. And Small changes can make a really big difference. And the encouragement that I want to give you today is to start where you are, every change, every change happens with one step. And so start where you are. And I’ve got a lot of good solutions. And they’re really, they’re they’re all focused on small changes, right? So they shouldn’t be too overwhelming, because I get it right. Like we’re all a little bit overwhelmed right now. But start where you are, start small. And remember that Small changes can make a big difference. And so let’s jump in and give you some solutions to really help you and your team navigate this new terrain. solution. One. always talk about why. Okay, I talked about this one a lot, because it’s really that important. But as a leader, you have always got to be connecting your team to purpose, right? Okay, so Simon Sinek, wrote a really great book, he’s also got a TED talk with the same title, which is start with why. And it’s really this idea of connecting your team to purpose. So whether it’s in marketing, whether it is with your team in leadership, but you’ve always got to be talking about your why. So purpose is all about the why. So don’t just tell them what, don’t just tell them what to do, right? And don’t just tell them how to do it. So you know, when it comes to leadership, those things matter. And those things need to happen, but as a leader, so I would argue your most important job is to tell your people why, what they’re doing matters.

Dr. Melissa Smith 7:58
Why what they’re doing matters. And that is even more true in the face of uncertainty. So you know, when you’re facing challenges, purpose is what keeps people committed and motivated, in the face of hopelessness, and in the face of uncertainty. And so purpose is more important than ever, right now. So make sure you’re talking about purpose. And purpose keeps people from losing hope. It keeps people invested and engaged, especially when they’re working remotely, right, and almost everyone’s working remotely, you may be starting to transition back. But it keeps people invested in engaged. And connecting people to purpose really helps them to see that what they’re doing matters. So over communicate about it, right, like, err on the side of over communication. So the mistake that I see a lot of leaders make is that this is the first thing to go during hard times, because leaders get hyper focused on the details. They they move into control, and correct. And so right this control and corrective action type of leadership during crisis. And so they get hyper focused on details and they lose sight of the big picture. And so they’re not talking about purpose. They’re talking about the what and the how, instead of the why. And so don’t let that happen to you. It’s okay to talk about the what and the how, you know, like, that’s important. I’m not saying don’t talk about that. But your most important job as a leader is to talk about the why. So don’t ever talk about the what and the how, without also talking about the why. And let’s follow Simon synnex counsel and always start with why So always talk about why. And you’re talking about why it matters, why the work matters. But you’re also talking to your team better team members about why they matter, and why you need them on your team. And when we’re facing a crisis, when they’re working remotely, when they’re feeling disconnected when they’re feeling isolated, when they’re wondering if they, you know, if they’re working in matters, they need to hear that they matter, and that their work matters. And they need to hear that from you. So make sure you are connecting with them around purpose. Okay, solution to have a plan. So consider the small steps your organization can take to make a big difference for the health of your organization, the health of the economy, and the psychological well being of your team members, right. So all of that really matters. So of course, you know, I like movies, I like movies as much as the next gal. And they teach us that the dramatic moments bring big solutions. And I think too many of us have approach COVID-19 the same way. And I think that’s because we’re all overwhelmed. And it’s like such a big problem. Right? Like, it’s it’s so overwhelming. And our world, our world just came to a standstill so quickly, that I think we’re running the risk of like, we feel like we need, like one big solution, like we’re all just sitting around waiting for a vaccine, so that we can feel safe to resume our normal lives. And I’m just telling you, like, we’re probably going to be waiting a long time. Like, it’s not coming. And I like I’m not trying to be disrespectful at all. Like I think like I actually have hope that a vaccine could come. But even if a vaccine is developed, you know, in the next six months in the next year, in the next 18 months, which right there, they’re working on that diligently. And I think there’s a lot of reason for optimism, a vaccine is not going to solve all of our problems. And I think that’s where the movies have led us astray. There’s not one big solution to this problem.

Dr. Melissa Smith 12:32
And so that’s why it’s so important that each of us individually. And as leaders of organizations, and as teams have a plan, right? So small changes, small plans make a big difference, right, lots of little things make a big difference. Lots of people washing their hands make a difference. Lots of people wearing masks make a difference. Lots of people being sensible about their interactions make a difference. So of course real life teaches us that it’s not the big dramatic moments, the actually the small changes that accumulate over time, and tend to make the biggest differences. And so, of course, like, we all want a vaccine, we all want the medications developed and right, we’ve got like the best scientists working on that.

Dr. Melissa Smith 13:28
And of course, they should continue doing that, like I absolutely am all over that. Let’s think about small and simple steps we can take to get to real life solutions today in this post COVID world. So we should do all of that. Right? Like we should go after the big stuff, and the small stuff. So I want you to think about I want you to answer this question. How are you taking a lead within your organization? Okay, so have you increased efforts to clean your physical office space? Are you taking the health and safety of your employees Seriously? Now, one thing I just want to pay attention to right? Like you might not have the authority or the responsibility to do that. You might right. Like you might be the stakeholder in that and you might not, you might have a seat at that table for those conversations. So I just like want to be respectful that like don’t go out of your lane. Let’s just pay attention to these questions. And I think also be willing to look at what you’re doing and examine whether it makes sense, because I think the other risk that we run into is a lot of herd mentality. Where you know, a lot of people are doing a lot of things that may not necessarily be supported by the findings. And to that point, I also just want to say like it this is a fast moving target. And the research is, you know, emerging And so we’re, you know, best practices are also emerging as we move forward. But this is where like be willing to, to keep yourself informed and be willing to stay on top of the emerging results. And pivot your practices as an organization in response to emerging findings, rather than continuing to do something that’s not supported by best practices. Right. So, you know, just just be mindful of that, because some, some practices that you may be doing, that maybe made sense seven weeks ago, are absolutely not supported at this point, because we’ve got seven weeks of data that say, there’s no good reason to do that. So just be willing to have those conversations as an organization, and be willing to follow best practices based on emerging results. Okay, so have you increased efforts to clean your physical office space? Are you taking the health and safety of your employees Seriously? That’s a big one. Do team members have the option to work remotely? Are you mate? Are you making this an option? How are essential workers being protected? How do you communicate with clients, customers and the public about safety precautions? Right, I mean, do you have a mechanism to communicate with them? First of all, and how is that communication happening? Is that regular? You know, are you consistent in that communication? How do you determine reopening? Do you have a staged process for that? Are you consulting with federal and state guidelines? You know, if you’re, if you’re in the US state guidelines and federal guidelines, if you’re in another country, your local and national authorities, are you listening to the concerns, questions and suggestions of your team members? are you providing more than one option as feasible? So for us, you know, in, in our clinical practice, we have telehealth and we’ve just begun recently, soft reopening of our face to face services, we’ve got all sorts of safety precautions in place, but also have made that totally optional for the clinicians. So that’s the first level, clinicians get to determine their safety and comfort level with moving to face to face sessions. And then also, the next level is clients. So we first determine if we offer them face to face, because we have an obligation to protect our employees and team members. And I feel really, very strongly about that.

Dr. Melissa Smith 18:18
And we can absolutely reasonably provide the same level of services via telehealth. And we’re very fortunate that we can do that. And I recognize not all businesses can do that. But then clients can can choose if they would like to come in for a face to face services or continue with telehealth. And so that’s one of the ways that we are navigating that but can you provide more than one option as feasible? And sometimes you have to be really creative about that. And I think what’s what’s often true in these situations is it’s always easier to say no. But trying to get to yes, sometimes it it creates a little more work, it creates a little more creativity. But we want to think about, you know, what’s in the best interests of employees, what’s in the best interest of clients and customers? If it does not work, it does not work that be willing to have the conversations be willing to look at options and feasibility. Rather than just saying no. Okay,

Unknown Speaker 19:31
and then,

Dr. Melissa Smith 19:31
you know, thinking about mass thinking about hygiene, you know, those sorts of things. Physical spacing, social distancing, do you need to reconfigure your office furniture, your spacing, do you need to have staggered work shift schedules start and end times? We’ve certainly done that at our clinic. A lots of people are doing that and you just recognize, you know, you can be a lot more flexible than you thought you could. Which I think is one of those. One of those nice lessons. That we can all take from this time. Okay, solution three, of course, you want to assess and reassess the situation as more information comes in. And as you receive further feedback. So I’ve already alluded to this, you know, of course, this is a fast moving target. And so your plan must adjust according to changes on the ground. But, you know, take the responsibility to keep yourself informed of the changes, and maybe you know, you, you have a couple of team members that have specific responsibilities of different areas. So that, you know, it’s not just on one person’s shoulders, but you know, it’s so important to, to stay on top of the changing information and the emerging data so that you can make well informed decisions. And, you know, I’ve talked about this in earlier podcasts about leading through a crisis. You know, as a leader, you want to enlist your team in the decision making process as much as possible. And so, as I talk about all of these things, right, like you, as a leader shouldn’t, shouldn’t be making all of these decisions, you shouldn’t be doing all this research on your own, like, harness the power of your team, and enlist their feedback and have them bringing in this information. I mean, that’s why you have a team, they have a lot of wisdom, and valuable perspective. And of course, you need, you need their wisdom as you move forward. And I’ll work together solution for learn as you go. So definitely integrate the information you’re taking in, uncertainty kicks up that fear and resistance, but a willingness to integrate and learn quickly, will definitely help you and your team adapt quickly. So you know, you might even want to have a little bit of a mantra around that, hey, we’re gonna learn and integrate, we’re going to integrate and iterate as we go. And just make it okay for people to learn as they go. And you’ve got to increase your tolerance for you know, for the mistakes, and for the iteration, and be explicit about making that, okay, especially in the face of uncertainty, because there’s going to be more fear, and potentially more resistance in the face of that uncertainty. solution, five, embrace the new reality. Of course, you know, some of these new realities are not going away anytime soon, you know, especially like, zoom in talk about zoom, like, we’ve all become pretty darn familiar with that. So you can drag your time on zoom, or you can have fun with it. And what I found is having a playful attitude about it can really make a big difference. And I would just say even more generally, like having a playful attitude about tech can make a big difference. And like not getting too anxious or too worked up about it, especially like if you’re if you’re an individual that doesn’t feel very comfortable with with tech is just recognizing like it’s a tool that helps you to connect with others and not getting too spun up about it can can be very helpful. So just a couple of things on zoom. So on April 22, zoom CEO, Eric Juan, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing his name, right. So I apologize if that’s not correct. But he announced that the platform now has more than 300 million daily active meeting participants 300 million. So to put that into perspective, it previously reported a total of 10 million daily users at the end of December 2019. So went from 10 million daily users, end of December, to now more than 300 million daily users. So I mean, talk about astronomical

Dr. Melissa Smith 24:18
growth there. For them in the number of daily users. That’s just crazy. I mean, we’re living our lives on zoom, it seems so that’s just insane. So when we think about embracing the new reality, the key is really to find some, some good ways to connect. And there are some fun ways to connect via teleconferencing. And so this was a fun little article that I found through my local news outlet KSL. And this was written by Nicole carpenter, who, who I know she actually helps to run a women’s career development series that I’m a part of, and she’s she’s really remarkable. So Way to go, Nicole So I wanted to share a few things from this article because I thought it was really well done, and some very great suggestions for all of us since we are spending so much time on zoom. And there are also some really funny videos about zoom. There’s one. And if probably if you just like google it or something, you can find it. But a gentleman, he came up with a different theme, a different zoom theme every day for like 30 days. And it is hilarious. Like he dressed up as a different character every day. So he showed up for his zoom meetings, like as a different character, like every day for 30 days. And it’s so funny. It’s got the music and sound effects and background and everything. And talk about fun, like I bet his team members really looked forward to those zoom meetings, if for no other reason to see like, who who is going to show up as. But there are some really fun ways that you can have fun with it. So these are from Nicole carpenter. And this is an KSL article, which is one of our local news outlets in Salt Lake City. So I will link to this article. So the first idea is to theme your meeting. So you could have unique or specific attire, right. So that can be fun. So maybe your theme is a hat day, or like, like your favorite Hawaiian shirt, or like your favorite aloha shirt, or your worst shirt, or you wearing your shirt, like your favorite team. This was a colleague of mine, her team, they did a twin day. So you have a twin on your team, and you dress up as your twin. She said that was really fun. You could also hold a background contest. So apparently zoom has a feature like a virtual background feature. So you could hold a background contest. And then you can vote on who has the best virtual background. And you could have people guess the location, a TV show or a movie scene, or use the background to get to know one another better. So like childhood memory, that sort of thing. But I guess you have to download the images to your zoom profile before your meeting. So like Be prepared before that, that could be really fun. Another idea is to bring a pet to work on a zoom meeting or you know, bring your kids like do a little Hello, like a meet and greet with your pet or your kids, that could be kind of fun. You could try a virtual happy hour. At the end of the week that you know, of course, these are kind of informal, unscripted, where people can just like hang out. And I’ve done this I did. I did a virtual happy hour with some great friends of mine in my NBA group. And you know, we were just on for like 40 minutes. And it was awesome, it was a great a great chance to catch up and just just talk about how everyone was coping with it. And so that’s a great idea. You could also do you know, if it’s at the beginning of the day, you could do a coffee break coffee chat, or this idea of mug shot morning. So from all accounts, so this is from Nicole, either coffee chats or virtual happy hour seem to go best when conversations are kept light and supportive. So don’t have too much structure there. Another idea is to play a game. So at the end of each zoom call with their teacher. So this is from Nicole, her third grade twins play a scavenger hunt. Now I think this is such a fun idea. And this could be like this would be fun for anyone. So their teacher shouts out a category, and they run to grab a matching item and see who can get back first. Isn’t that fun? So they just like run around the house and find something. So I think that would be that’s really fun. So from Nicole, she said that

Dr. Melissa Smith 28:53
course you know anyone can do the zoom games. And they can be easily incorporated into work meetings, especially if you added a gift card for the winner. So games that have successfully worked for Others include charades, zoom, bingo, would you rather or guests that kid so? Yeah, I’m not really familiar with those. But that could be fun. One game that we’ve played as a team, we actually did this face to face like before COVID. But I think it could work and my kids did this on zoom with a church group. And that was Kahoot good school. I can’t remember if it was NASA at the end or not. But anyway, they my kids said that was really fun. And it was fun when we played it in purpose or in in person. So that might be a fun idea as well. So anyway, I will link to Nicole’s article. So thank you, Nicole, for all those great ideas. That’s fine. So the point though, is that Small changes can make a big difference, not only for coping, but helping you and your team To be more resilient in the face of change to help you carry on well, and to help you become part of positive change, because right like we’re all in this together, we’ll all get through it together. And, you know, the the small, the Small changes can add up to big differences over time. And, you know, it’s also it makes a big difference to know that we’re not helpless in the face of uncertainty. And that can be really, really empowering. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-59 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-59. And of course, I will link to the articles and resources for this podcast. And I hope that you and your team have a great time and that you check out some of those fun ways to spice up your teleconference meetings, because you know what we might as well have some fun, and some of these changes can be really great changes. So with that, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

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