How Executives Found Out Vulnerability Has A Place At Workplace

Humanity, vulnerability & proper rest.

Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

Many researchers predicted that the new challenges the pandemic posed on us, like working from home, would “create a productivity disaster for firms.”

But what really happened was the opposite of a productivity disaster.

Despite all odds, organizations saw a 48% increase in job satisfaction. And higher job satisfaction leads to an average of 31% surge in productivity.

Many executives said that the pandemic pushed them to improve their management strategies and actually get to know their team members.

But how was that possible? Why were the experts on all-things-business so wrong in their predictions?

Well, during the pandemic, executives re-discovered the value of three simple things: humanity, vulnerability, and proper rest.

Discover how that helped them manage their teams and boost productivity below.

A Revelation: Almighty Executives Are Human, After All

The formality of the office space makes it easy to forget that executives are also human.

And it’s not just that other team members forget that their execs are human. The execs themselves often behave like they’re androids whose only purpose is hitting business targets.

But the pandemic broke those walls.

Working from home in a period of fear and uncertainty made executives reconnect with their own humanity.

It’s hard to mount walls around your heart when working from your kitchen with your spouse and children playing in the background.

Many thought execs behaving more humane would lead to a loss of respect and effectiveness in the workplace.

But it didn’t. In fact, team members felt more connected with their leaders after gaining privileged insight into their weaknesses and their other “human” aspects.

Consider the following statistics from Paychex’s extensive study on employee-manager relations amid COVID-19:

  • 66% of employees reported receiving honest communication during the pandemic.
  • 32% of employees said their interpersonal relationship with their managers has improved since COVID-19’s onset.
  • 48% of employees reported that their managers were stellar at “offering encouragement” while they worked from home.

So, it seems that employees agree that their relationships with the execs have improved since the beginning of the pandemic.

Maybe because the pandemic pushed execs to reconnect with their humanity.

They had to get vaccinated, master new remote working tools, and adjust to the new (and scary) circumstances — just like the rest of their team.

Such experiences that execs shared with the rest of humanity reminded them that they’re human, too.

The takeaway: As we move back to business as usual, executives should keep the doors open. They should keep showing their team members that they can empathize and understand what they’re going through. So, don’t stop those one-to-one conversations if you’re an exec. Openness and transparency will bring your team members together.

Vulnerability Improved Interpersonal Relations and Empowered Employees

By reconnecting with their humanity, executives have also re-discovered their vulnerability.

But to conclude why that’s important, we must first know what vulnerability is.

According to Brené Brown, a leading expert on social connection, vulnerability is the willingness to do something without guarantees.

Vulnerability requires us “to stop controlling and predicting” and just be.

And the reward for being vulnerable is a sense of belonging — feeling connected:

B. Brown’s lecture

In a way, vulnerability is about admitting and showing our weaknesses despite the possibility of someone taking advantage of those weaknesses.

But maybe you have your reservations about vulnerability in the workplace. Many execs probably had them, too.

Still, the vulnerability in the workplace became almost unavoidable during the pandemic.

The executives realized that they couldn’t do everything themselves, so they gave their team members more responsibilities.

That resulted in two things: better executive-employee relations and increased feelings of empowerment among employees.

Since many organizations switched to remote working, executives could no longer monitor their employees like they used to do at physical offices.

They had to trust their team members to make the right choices on their own and finish the tasks on time.

They also learned that they couldn’t help everyone through their issues, especially while dealing with their own.

So, most executives started giving their employees more responsibilities. They gave them more control over their time, tasks, and the overall success of their team.

In the process, many employees had to learn new skills so that they can fulfil their new leadership roles.

The takeaway: Executives should keep giving their employees more responsibilities even in the post-pandemic era. That way, execs will have less on their plate, while the employees will feel more in charge and, consequently, more motivated. Also, execs should be aware of their own weaknesses and cultivate gratitude for the employees who make up for those weaknesses.

The Challenges And Importance of Proper Rest

The pandemic reminded us how important it is to take care of our mental and physical health.

Unfortunately, not everyone was able to do so.

Workers that provide essential services — like emergency responders, health care workers, and others — had to work longer hours than usual or take on more overnight shifts during the pandemic.

As a result, many workers couldn’t get proper rest. This affected their work performance, so many executives took it upon themselves to remind their staff of the importance of self-care.

Take SalesLoft as an example. The company started offering its employees new perks to help them adapt to the pandemic, such as:

  • Offering monthly rest and focus days
  • Offering a subscription to the Headspace app
  • Extending maternity leave to 16 weeks

In a sense, the pandemic served as a wake-up call.

In the past, executives would rush their teams into finishing their projects on time. Now, they were actually encouraging them to take personal time off.

The takeaway: Executives should continue to encourage their workers to practice self-care and take the time to rest. Not only will this result in improved work performance, but it will also minimize your risk of losing good workers due to overworking them.

The Hardest Part Is Not Forgetting These Lessons

We’re all slowly adapting to the new normal. And with that adaptation comes the risk of forgetting the lessons the pandemic has taught us.

So, the best thing you can do is purposefully remind yourself of these three lessons.

Have someone — maybe even one of your employees — hold you accountable if you need to.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in front of your team. Don’t hesitate to give them more responsibilities. And lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of proper rest.

If you can do that, I’m sure your company will thrive.

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