MARLON MOLMISA

Leadership Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Author

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Leaders' Role In The Recovery Stage

We are now in the recovery stage. 

This was announced by NEDA Acting Secretary Ken Chua via Zoom Webinar organized by Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines last May 28.

He mentioned the 3 phases of the government's economic plan for the country as we face the battle against Covid 19.

1. Emergency Stage (March to May 2020)
2. Recovery Stage (June to December 2020)
3. Resilience Stage (2021 onwards)

March - May 2020 was the Emergency Stage where the government implemented a strict community quarantine so that the virus would not spread rapidly.

While we were encouraged to stay at home, our economy also slowed down which was caused by very thin opportunities for companies to generate sales, no income for the employees under "no work, no pay" status, while the daily expenses did not stop.

This led the government to initiate some financial support for the poor, affected employees, and small businesses such as the DSWD's Social Amelioration Program (SAP), DOLE's COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers, Barangay Ko Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK) Program, SSS's Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program and more.

Aside from these, local leaders like Mayor Vico Sotto of Pasig City pushed their own version of SAP as a supplementary financial aid for those who were not included under the DSWD's master list.

Although the government is persistent to do its best to support the needs of people, most experts claimed that these are not the long-term solutions.

During these months, many businesses were bleeding. There are some firms that already filed for bankruptcy, some decided to temporarily close, and some are currently going through a retrenchment.

If you are a business owner or someone who has an access to the highest level of your company, you would understand. You would feel that the decision was made out of a Solomonic wisdom because you see the entire picture.

But for an ordinary employee, that's a selfish decision. We are not exactly sure what's going on in the mind of the employees. People are naturally bias on his personal needs and agenda. Therefore, some employees have the highest tendency to not accept the decision.

Be ready to hear some backlashes like "I did my best for this team... I sacrificed my time with my family for this company... I deserved this spot more than this particular employee who would stay... and so on and so forth." 

In the next coming days, there would be more online meetings with your bosses and staff. More documents need to be signed. Noises within your organization will start to scream! You have to be fully prepared.

Just take a break. Have a deep breathe. Stretch out. Grab a coffee and let's talk on how we can be a better business leader these days.

LEADERS ROLE IN THE RECOVERY STAGE

As discussed by NEDA Acting Sec. Chua, June - December 2020 is supposed to be the Recovery Stage. In this blog, we will not focus on what the government will be doing in the next 6 months.

By this time, let us zoom in on your plans. Plans that you have a full control. These are the habits that you can do to put your team in order again.

1. Empathy Works.

The community quarantine provided me with much time to read more books, articles, attend webinars, and to be updated with the trends in leadership from all sectors of the society.

This is what I have discovered. In terms of leadership, nothing has changed. Hmmm.. Yes, nothing, aside from the fact that empathetic leadership works best in this season.

Why? Because your people are disoriented. They fear the loss of their jobs. They worry about their families' lives and own health since Covid 19 is hyped to be a virus that cannot be seen and deadly. They are uncertain of what will be the next move of the management in which most of their bosses are also uncertain.

Uncertainty develops stress based on study. World Health Organization said that fear, worry, and stress are normal responses when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown.

While I was talking to some business leaders these past months, one has mentioned that the problems of our organization before the Covid 19 happened will still be our problem in the next few months. Lack of communication, personality clashes, office politics, management issues and more. 

All these concerns will rise again if we failed to properly address it before the lockdown. It just happened that another problem came into the picture - Covid 19. Therefore, people are now overwhelmed with the concern in the office and the concern within their personal lives.

In 2015, CNN Philippines found out through a survey that 23% of the Filipino workers cited their job or studies as their main source of stress. Most of them said that the main source of stress come from their bosses or supervisors. 

So the question here is "how not to be an additional burden to your employees?"

Simply increase your empathy. Be more compassionate. That's where you can increase your influence and be able to encourage them to be more productive at work.

Empathy happens when you first detect the current emotion of your people. Ask them. Check if their actions are consistent to what they say. Feel and read between the lines. Have a deep discernment. Look at the defense mechanisms. Sometimes, they hurt other people because they are hurt.

Second, just allow them to speak. Create an atmosphere where it is ok not to be ok. Initiate the conversation that would encourage them to be more vulnerable. Be genuine with your emotions too. Remember, leaders should have a high emotional intelligence. It is not only the ability to have a strong personality, but also a skill on how to facilitate the emotions of the people.

Lastly, dive deeper. Ask them about their families.

Throughout my journey as a leader especially in the context of business, I can say that the openness of our staff about their families determine the level of their trust upon us. The more that we know about each other's families, the more that we trust and respect each other.

Empathy starts in asking about their family's conditions. You may not solve everything about their personal concerns, but just the act of asking and listening, that really works!

As the leadership gurus would say, "touch the heart before you ask the hand."

2. Assist Them To Change.

After you connect to them emotionally, the second move is to improve their change management muscle.

Our current new normal is always subject to change. The current situation is  still unstable. Expect that another big shift is always possible. A leader's role is not only to prepare for it but also to include his team in the process.

I love what John Kotter of Harvard Business School said, "Leaders don’t make plans; they don’t solve problems; they don’t even organize people. What leaders really do is prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it."

As I have talked to some employees these past few days, I learned that people don't need motivational speakers nor managers. They need leaders in these trying times.

Motivational speakers can just hype your people to move. But leaders will inspire and assist them to go through change.

Managers will just direct people to what they should do and how they should behave. But leaders will join his people to struggle with the process of change.

If you want to know my thoughts about change, here's one of them. Please see my facebook post below.


As I said, "champions love the process more than the end goal. They enjoy the practice more than the trophies. They enjoy every pain from it. They love the journey more than the destination."

A leader should always educate his people with the value of sacrifice. Communicate what's going on in the organization. Allow them to become a part of the process of change that is happening in the company.

Ask for their insights. Know their side. Involve them in the decision-making process, not necessarily in the major decisions. The important part is they would feel that you are all in this together.


Additional heads up! I've been hearing some concerns from business leaders that their employees kept on comparing their company with other companies. Like other companies provide laptops, pocket wifis, office furnitures for their work from home setup. If you have the capacity to provide, go ahead! It really helps!


But if you are not able, it is a mortal sin to directly tell them, "Please don't compare our company with the others." Instead, have a heart to heart talk, either through an online meeting, team gathering or one-on-one.


The best way to communicate is to give them the context of your company. The financial standing, the client's demand, opportunities in the market, the overall picture of your industry. Be fully honest in the process of dialogue. People love honest leaders.


Sometimes, as you explain the current condition of the team, it is not necessary to justify why you are unable to provide what they need. Just make sure that you are there and you are doing your best to assist them along the changes in the company.


3. Be Visible Most Often.


In times of crisis, people look for someone they can lean on. Whether we accept it or not, leaders are born to be a strong man. Therefore, his presence when everything crumbles is really crucial.

That's why I encourage you to be there - always.

When I say "always", it doesn't mean 24/7. It doesn't mean that you have to be physically present all the time.

Let me clarify that attendance is not always equal to presence. There are leaders who are there just to show some courtesy. Or maybe, they are required to do so. Most of the time, these leaders are there but not emotionally present to his people.

Visibility is beyond video call. Leadership is more than tasks cascading or team huddles. Leadership is about making sure that everyone is aligned and everyone is ready before the ship moves forward.

When I say visibility, it is beyond legitimacy. More than your titles. It is about rolling up your sleeves. Visibility means, "Hey! I see that you are struggling in your work. Can I help? How can we do about it?"

Yes, it is the gesture of reaching out.

You cannot fix all the problems in your department or the entire company. However, I am sure you can be a part of the solution. Do what you can do. Maximize your networks who can help with your team's challenges. Mobilize the entire team for a massive bayanihan.

You don't have to be on the ground to help each one of them. Imagine it as if you are in a choir. You are the choir master. Just stand at the middle. Get your stick and move your hand. Then enjoy the hymn!


Visibility means you never allow your organization to be leaderless.


Kouzes and Posner, author of the best-selling book "The Leadership Challenge", found out through their leadership studies that  "people admire leaders who serve during….innovation and change." This means that they are immersed in people's lives when they are suffering.

Leaders, be there and serve.


This website is an online resource for leadership, inspiration, faith, speaking engagements and personal experiences of the leadership trainer and filipino motivational speaker Marlon Molmisa. Follow Marlon on Facebook.

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