[Guest Post from Blair Boyer, Director of Human Resources, Dion’s]
It seems like a lifetime ago when the world dramatically changed because of COVID-19, but in reality, it’s only been about seven weeks. As HR Director of a business that takes pride in offering family friendly policies, it became clear to me very early on in this crisis that the greatest tool I had in my tool box was the ability to listen, care, and act. I have personally taken hundreds of calls in the past seven weeks from employees and parents of employees. Their perspectives range from “It’s no big deal,” to “I am scared to death.” It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the most important work I was about to embark on was the journey of facilitating each employee through their own point of view and to help them become grounded in a calmer place.
Listen-Care-Act is a leadership communication model that we teach and expect here in our company. On the surface, it appears to be a simple model, but it requires delicate skills such as active listening, kindness and compassion, and empathy and decisiveness. The following are skills that can take years to develop but through regular practice will pay off in many facets of your life.
LISTEN and CARE
A mantra that I often use in communication is, “Seek first to understand, and THEN to be understood.” Our employees are humans with real concerns and fears as it pertains to COVID-19, so it is imperative, as leaders, to be grounded in understanding, and practice active listening to be able to help employees through the noise. In my leadership career, I have never faced such an intense and complicated crisis like COVID-19, but I have been through other challenges in both my professional and personal life, and that gives me the capacity to help another person get through their situation.
Retaining our employees has always been a top priority, so how will the landscape change in the months and years to come? There are some companies that are holding their own through this crisis; some companies have temporarily shut down; and for many companies it may take months and years to recover. It is an unprecedented time in our history.
In my opinion, safety and job security will certainly be the top concerns for our employees going forward. In some cases, these may even become more important than wages and benefits. The way that employees are being cared for during this time will speak volumes down the road. Current and future employees will be paying close attention to a company’s internal and external crisis planning and messaging.
This is the time to leverage every tool you have in your leadership toolbox. Heck, you may even have to make up a few new ones! Decisiveness is one of those tools that great leaders will need to use. Be bold – be clear – be consistent. Communication and trust are joined together at the hip! Frequency, honesty, and transparency will be the thing that all employees will expect going forward. Ask leaders in your organization their thoughts on this and get everyone on the same page. A single, unified message will be imperative going forward.
I am grateful to be working for a company that is recognized as a Family Friendly New Mexico business. I am thankful for the work that Giovanna Rossi and her team do to recognize us, as well as educating other organizations on the importance of family friendly policies. FFNM has been a great resource for our company to refine and craft policies that will become even more important in our “new world.” I highly encourage everyone to utilize this valuable resource during this incredibly challenging time. Stay healthy everyone!
About the author:
Blair Boyer, Director of Human Resources of Dion’s, has been a resident of the great state of New Mexico since 1970, and has a career in leadership spanning nearly forty years, including the last 20 years in an exempt level HR position. He has spent the last thirteen years serving as Director of Human Resources for Dion’s Pizza, a fast casual restaurant chain employing over 1,600 exceptional people in 24 locations in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. Blair has a seat on the Dion’s Executive Team and is responsible for crafting the strategy to drive Dion’s growth and fulfill the vision of being the most admired regional restaurant brand in the country. Blair currently serves on Family Friendly New Mexico’s Business Leadership Council.