The last month has been a whirlwind, perhaps a bit of a tornado. It seems half the people I see are out furiously in search of their Emerald City . Last week, a leader told me, “I want to get back to the way it was, I need to find my center. It feels like pieces are missing in my business, team, and me. I am starting over…again!” Her urgency and passion reminded me of the Scarecrow looking for a brain, the Lion looking for courage, and the Tin Man looking for a heart. She had just been cloistered in Kansas, and was urgently in search of her OZ or the Good Witch of the North. When I mentioned that “the way it was” does not exist, she looked crestfallen as though she was about to melt into the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Starting again, the first step on the path…the Yellow Brick Road! If your business was “essential,” you were open through the last year. If your business was open, closed, sort of open, and now fully open, you still must adapt to the changes that are present in the world today. How do you handle the employees who are furiously clicking their heals saying, “There is no place like home?” Can you accommodate those requests, and engage to retain the people who learned to love their home during the tornado? How do you engage the Flying Monkeys, the employees who are being approached to potentially fly away to another castle?
During the last year we may have been together, but we were very separate. Now is the time to reengage, relate, and get close to understand “What is behind the curtain,” and the frame of mind for your current employees. As leaders and supervisors, you must engage intentionally with prospective and current employees. In the war for talent, you need to seize the opportunity and act quickly to capture talent. Once you identify or hire a great candidate, captivate their attention with constant communication and follow-through. It is not as easy as clicking your Ruby Slippers, have a methodical and structured approach to messaging and coaching regarding your values and expectations.
The wizard told Dorothy to get back home she had to, “Go and get the broomstick from the Wicked Witch of the West.” She was captured by the witch, and her trusty sidekicks went to save her. With the help of Toto, they dressed as guards, and rescued her. Dorothy melted the witch, captured the broom, and freed the Flying Monkeys and guards. “Hail to Dorothy, the Wicked Witch is dead!” She was clear about the expectations, focused on the goal, and ultimately achieved her desired result.
Be clear regarding your business processes and expectations. Ensure all messaging and communications are consistent. If you waiver, employees are confused and lose trust. If the business can accommodate hybrid or work-from-home arrangements, construct a go-forward policy with guidelines and expectations. If you cannot have WFM, be clear about the reasons why. If some employees can work from home but others must be in the office, be up-front or employees may perceive unfair treatment.
Frequent communication will pull back the curtain regarding employee questions and concerns about work, reentry, or their personal life. You never know if you will find the Wizard of OZ or the traveling medicine man from Kansas until you talk to and connect with your employees. To successfully travel on the Yellow Brick Road, the leader and employee must trust and share an understanding that there is potential to move “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Wisdom from the Wizard, “Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.”