The past few weeks have been unprecedented for all of us. At Affirm, we’ve been very busy trying to help our customers, merchants and our employees during this crisis. While there have been other crises I have dealt with at work, this far exceeds any of the previous ones. One of the things I am trying to articulate is what does it take to be a good leader, manager, boss during such a crisis.
Here’s a working list of guiding principles I’ve come up with:
People come first: Always prioritize your team member’s needs around their safety and health over the business’s needs. Say this to them often, listen to their concerns and act accordingly.
Be compassionate: Crises energize some people and for others, it can be stressful, sometimes to the point of inaction. Recognize the folks who’ve risen to the occasion and help those who are struggling.
Focus on what matters: During a crisis, leaders get pulled in different directions. So defining your focus and energy becomes even more critical. Make sure you are focusing on initiatives where you add value to the business. Don’t be in there just because you can get more face time with other leaders.
Divide work equitably: Don’t immediately assume that all your team members are equally busy during a crisis. Evaluate what’s on each team member’s plate and try to be equitable in assigning work to each of them.
Asking for discretionary effort: Feel comfortable asking for people to go above and beyond. You are doing this and it is only fair that others do so. We are all in it together.
Create space for feedback: You might have said this ad nauseam to your team – give me feedback, feel comfortable to disagree, etc. In a crisis more than ever you need to create space and opportunity to do exactly that. It will help you avoid blind spots, consider all angles and help you make decisions faster.
Got guiding principles or tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.
Last morning, I was waiting by the sidelines as my 5-year old daughter was at her Bear Cub Gymnastics class at the Golden Bears Recreation Center. At this gym you can see some future star gymnasts hard at work perfecting their skills and routines. About half hour into my daughter’s class, they cleared the center of the gym and a few girls between the age of 9 and 13 started their warm-ups. One of the things they did was the standing backflip or back tuck. And watching them I looked towards another parent and before I could say it – she said: “I wish I could do that.”
Later in the evening back in the comfort of my couch and wanting to kill some time, I was surfing YouTube and searched for “How to do a backflip.” Among the top search results was this video:
The video was pretty well made by YouTube vlogging standards, and the guy in the video clearly knew what he was doing. He used a few devices that would help a person learn this move – repetition, breakdowns of steps, slow-motion etc. In spite of this, I felt he made it look too easy and consequently too hard for a novice like me to even conceive trying to learn how to do one.
Due to YouTube’s brilliant autoplay feature, I kept viewing other backflip tutorials done by other YouTube users including Howcast. And then I came across this video from UrbanNinja Fitness&Sports by “Kai.”
I loved how Kai breaks down all the drills that would prepare you for doing a back flip. In fact, right at the beginning he says this: ” …if you can’t do this one… you should go home and do some push-ups and sit-ups..” – nicely done, Kai – way to clearly explain the pre-requisites for this tutorial (I need to start here :-0) . He then goes on to show a progression of drills that would help you prepare yourself to do a standing backflip – a seemingly impossible feat for a novice. While a number of videos I saw were slicker, shorter or more entertaining, this one really took me step by step to a point where having perfected all the drills, one could possibly think of attempting a standing backflip.
And this is what good instructional design is – helping learners understand what steps they need to do to gain proficiency or mastery in performing a skill or task. Breaking down how a pro does something is often NOT a good way to help a novice learn. One has to go back to what pre-requisite knowledge, skills or abilities does one need to possess in order to perform the task.
OK- Gotta go know – time to do some push-ups and sit-ups….