5 Things Every Team Leader Needs to Know in 2021

We have finally left 2020 behind and as we slowly sail into the new year, hoping that we’ll have fewer colossal challenges to deal with, this year won’t be without its hardships. As a consequence of the pandemic, more companies have had to transition to remote work, leaving very little time to adapt properly or go through the necessary training to ensure productivity across the board. Add to that, there are financial issues to deal with, as well as competition, which will be as fierce as ever, if not more.

To withstand these new challenges of 2021, you’ll need to build a strong and cohesive team in your organization and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals, feeling valued and recognized. As their leader, your role in this process will be an essential and unique one, considering the circumstances in which your leadership will be honed and tested. Here are a few core ideas to keep in mind for 2021 that will help make your team more effective, engaged, and your organization more successful.

Practice empathy for your employees

It’s one thing to say that you care, but a whole different thing when you show that you care. As a leader in the modern day and age, you need to be able to practice empathy on a daily basis with your employees. Now more than ever, when people are dealing with the loss of loved ones, social isolation, and overall uncertainty, your care will mean all the difference in the world. Ask them how they are, provide help if they need any, be flexible, and support your teams, and your business will thrive.

Focus on building engagement

Managing a hybrid workforce is a challenge on its own: you need to be mindful of your on-site staff and their needs, but you also cannot neglect your remote employees. If you do, their engagement will plummet, you’ll have to deal with increasing employee turnover rates, and your staff won’t be as productive.

One simple change that can help is to automate some of your tasks, and implement software to increase company-wide transparency. The same tools you use to track time and attendance should also serve as your comprehensive employee engagement software with built-in communication options to adapt to your employees’ needs. You can chat with the whole team, off and on-site alike, or you can message a single person to see if they need help, keep track of their schedules, and help them manage their responsibilities no matter where they are, thus building engagement, satisfaction, and team cohesion.

Invest in training and education

Your role as a leader requires more than giving out assignments and checking on everyone’s performance every once in a while. Just like you want to make sure you are hiring the right employees who can contribute to your business, you need to think about what’s in it for them.

For most modern employees, the opportunity to move up in their careers, to advance their skills and their resumes are some of the greatest drivers. With that in mind, provide your teams with regular training and education. It will help advance your brand, but it will also help your employees derive greater satisfaction out of their career path.

Recognize your employees’ hard work

While your business is indeed your brainchild and your life’s work perhaps, you also need to be aware of the contribution your employees are making every single day to bring your business to life, to communicate your values to your customers, and to expand your brand’s reach.

The bottom line is, it shouldn’t go without saying. Especially after the year we’ve all had, people need some extra motivation and they want to feel valued, it’s what keeps them engaged and gives them a sense of relevance. Use your performance reviews and your meetings to express your gratitude and pride for your employees’ hard work – don’t generalize it, go out of your way to mention them by name, comment on specific tasks, and praise them for specific skills, they’ll appreciate being appreciated.

Empower work-life balance

People are tired, exhausted even, some are burnt out. They crave bonding with their loved ones, theater shows, restaurant dinners, and parties. While you can’t give them everything they want in the middle of a pandemic, the least you can do is promote, ensure, and empower work-life balance in your organization. Remind them to clock out when their shifts are over, encourage them to spend quality time on self-care, cover their fitness plan. Get creative, and make sure they take better care o themselves in 2021.

Learning is part of leadership and growth, but this year will call for even more effort on your part. Use the knowledge you’ve gained in the previous year and these tips to fuel your team moving forward, and hopefully, this and many upcoming years will be easier on your business, keeping your employees happy, productive, and above all more engaged than ever before, no matter if they work remotely or together with you at the office.

By Peter Minkoff

Peter is a lifestyle and travel writer at Men-Ual magazine, living between Ústí nad Labem and Antwerp. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.