Heroes show up every morning
These days some of my heroes are people who run their businesses and their teams despite the world around them.
We asked clients and business friends how they stay motivated in the face of daily challenges and how they motivate their teams.
The answers we received are surprisingly similar. There is a humanity in how they treat their co-workers and their employees, and yes, even themselves. Here are stories from two clients I think are exceptional managers and people.
Empowering the team
Jason Hardy, General Manager of Racksquared Data Center, in Columbus, Ohio notes that, “Working remotely for us was as simple as picking up our laptops and moving to another location.” But nothing is so simple.
While asking his team to perform at the highest level, he explains, “I also had to recognize that my team had personal concerns and distractions.”
The key was to empower the team to take care of home while balancing work. This meant communicating with them frequently via phone about work and how they were coping.
“These calls,” explains Jason, “were designed to reduce the feeling of: ‘I’m by myself.’“
Meanwhile, in Austin, Crystal Berry, Marketing Director at software company IDERA, has also been calling her team.
“I care about my team members, not only as employees, but as people,” she says. “So, we discuss their personal goals as well as work goals we have. That may be to do a home project that weekend, learn more about SEO, or just get some rest.”
“With everything that is going on, it’s important that we take time to relax and refresh. If there is something a team member can’t get done in time, one of the team or myself takes care of it for them.”
I find that astonishing. It’s a small company approach within a large corporation.
While working from home was straightforward at Racksquared, it was a challenge for customers.
“Under normal conditions,” explains Jason, “no one implements a work-from-home program in days or turns it on like a light switch. They do extensive planning and slowly ramp up, addressing issues as they arise.”
“This was not an option. Companies needed to move fast, and our team had to deliver at a high level despite the personal concerns they were dealing with. But we had planned for how we would excel when the world went sideways for everyone else,” he says.
For Crystal at IDERA, the value is in empowering her team to focus on customer needs. “I do my best to be a leader for my team and not overly manage them. I am lucky enough to have a team that is self-motivated.”
“If issues arise, we discuss those openly and work as a team to figure out ways to overcome them.”
Keeping Their Own Spirits Up
Like most of us, Crystal watches television news, but she limits her time with it. She also reduces the time she spends on social media.
“I removed Facebook from my phone. It’s important to take care of yourself and limiting stressors in your life is a part of that.”
Jason, though, faced a challenge most of us haven’t. In March, his father died from Covid-19.
“This brought Covid home for lots of people,” he explains. “This wasn’t: ‘A friend of a friend of a friend knows someone who….’ This was: ‘one of us lost a family member…’“
Jason and Crystal took the situation seriously from a business and personal space. These people really are heroes. Every day.