During the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland, Jess Thornton from Australia carried the weight of her nation as she attempted to win the 400m final leading up to the Rio Olympic Games.
Yet, in the midst of these Olympic-level stakes, just as the competitors came to the line, she took a moment to respectfully acknowledge Salwa Nasar from Bahrain. Nasar had recently made the heart-wrenching decision to leave her native Nigeria, where poverty robs young women of talent and potential, for the opportunity to break-out and flourish in Bahrain. Her choice was a refusal to leave her potential unrealized and Thorton’s brief moment of praise reverberated around the world.
Managing people is hard enough, but try doing it remotely.
On a weekly basis I spend the bulk of my hours at work meeting 30 individuals via Zoom for 30 minute check-ins. During that time we cover a myriad of different metrics that rate their performance, but I choose to focus on three things:
1. Connecting — Technology has widened the talent pool, but also breeds disconnection. Instead of being concerned about physical location as a barrier, I try to immerse myself in a session as if we were in the same room. Human connection is a powerful thing no matter where you are. Relationships are formed over time through trust regardless of distance. Working remotely can present challenges, but with empathy, active listening and genuine care the virtual gap can be closed. Think of having a conversation with a friend over coffee. The same principles of building a friendship apply here. Connection is the foundation for any working relationship to thrive.
Change is a reality that is here to stay, no question. But how we deal with change doesn’t have to create fear and uncertainty, or be overly managed with structure and templates. If you can move to a culture of design thinking and learning, organizational agility, and a willingness to embrace change can become naturally woven into the day-to-day work and routines of your team.
For a long time, I believed the prevailing wisdom that people are generally uncomfortable with change. I’m not sure exactly where I picked up that idea, or how it became so ingrained in my psyche, but I know many people who talk about the change they’re experiencing with high levels of anxiety.