• Steve Huffman

Casting Vision Beyond Covid

While looking down you can see the gaps in the boards. Some of the boards haven’t been painted in years and are starting to rot. Looking closely you see that a few boards are loose. You can see a lot about a problem when you fix your eyes on what’s right in front of you, but at some point, if you don’t look up you’ll fall off the dock.

It feels like the last six months of 2020 has been looking at the deck boards of a weathered pier, and unless leaders start looking up and beyond what the current problems are, we’re going to drown.

Casting a great vision for teams is hard enough, but adding COVID19 to the mix throughout 2020 has made it significantly harder. In March when the country started to navigate lock-downs, stay at home orders and businesses were scrambling to understand if they were ‘essential’ most business plans for 2020 were set aside and the focus became a response to the pandemic instead of following business plans as normal. Now that we are over halfway through 2020 most teams are tired as the majority of the focus has been outside the norm. Leaders are at a critical time as we begin to think through the last half of 2020 and begin to think about what 2021 might hold and the importance of casting great vision for our teams is critical. Even in a pandemic, it is possible to cast clear vision and motivate teams to do great things.

Here are 3 suggestions that will help you cast vision in an odd season:

1. Clarify the muddy Watters 

In many organizations, there are measures that you have decided on before the pandemic and economic impact. You likely had well thought out budget targets, sales goals, attendance goals, etc. and likely those are out the window. You’ve set those aside already, but have you clearly communicated broadly that those are set aside? Does your entire staff know that they personally will not be measured on the normal measures this year.

Leaders need to bravely communicate that any projections or measurements are set aside for the foreseeable future until clarity returns. Leaving this communication muddy will only create unease among your teams as 2020 continues to march on. Bonuses, pay increases, and annual evaluations are tied to some measurements, and trying to recreate new measures mid-pandemic is sketchy at best.

Even if you think you are clearly communicating about your goals, take extra time to reset expectations across the board. Without clearing the muddy waters new vision won’t be seen, supported, or understood.

2. Look slightly ahead of the current crisis

The current crisis has everyone looking at the planks & problems in front of them wondering what they next lockdown might look like, when the next legislation is dropping or how to deal with COVID when someone you know gets it. It is too easy to get fixated on how a face mask mandate is going to impact your organization. It is hard to motivate teams when they are looking in front of them hour by hour and when the playing field gets shifted every month.

As a leader, you cannot ignore the current crisis, but getting your teams to look up ahead of the crisis can help them start to see that their entire life doesn’t have to be consumed by the current challenge.

Practically stop focusing on COVID for a few hours and discuss with your team what projects can be started now, while times are a little odd, that you would have never started. What risks can you take now while your organization is not a full capacity. What will your customers, your congregation, your community need when the pandemic starts to subside? What opportunities should you positioning your organization towards now while you have time and resources that may be sitting idle? It’s the right time to be brainstorming about this today!

3. Communicate the new with empathy of the current

As you approach some new vision, beyond the challenges that 2020 has brought, keep in mind that your team likely won’t fully understand the vision. Successfully communicating new vision, beyond the problems of 2020 requires communicating with empathy for the current situation. Your teams are struggling with personally digesting the problems that 2020 has brought them. Adding one more thing that seemingly is disconnected has the risk to bring confusion and frustration.

Approaching new vision with how it links to today and outlining the opportunity at hand and the ability for the organization and all of the team to look up and look beyond the problems in front of you can help you motivate your team from walking off the end of the dock.