"Leadership is an action, not a position"
– Donald McGannon
What with Covid, the rising living costs and a whole load of other socio-economic issues flooding the news, it’s no surprise that employees (individuals) are feeling more anxious, overwhelmed and generally a bit burnt out.
As leaders it is our responsibility to help employees navigate these challenging times by showing compassion, helping set boundaries to protect their well-being whilst working remotely, and investing uninterrupted, thoughtful energy into their personal development and success.
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath is one of the biggest business challenges of our time. In our latest blog we spoke to Rob Brown, Founder and Managing Director of JUMP agency, a young, fast-paced, digital business based in Newcastle, about how he has led and nurtured his team through these turbulent times.
With regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, what has been the biggest challenge that Jump have faced?
Just like many businesses, we have experienced so many challenges, however, our biggest was ensuring our design and development teams continued to deliver our solutions remotely and on-time. We very quickly moved from physical face-to-face meetings into a virtual world of Teams and Zoom. Kris our Technical Director and Andy our Creative Director ensured that our daily stand-ups and sprints continued virtually. Our reliance on Cloud-based tools became essential, and we learned how to bring them together in innovative ways. By embracing new technology, we moved from our physical whiteboards for our face-to-face daily stand-ups to virtual ones, and it has become an integral element to the start of our working day.
We are beginning to meet with customers and work face to face again, however we continue to use the same technology/systems to enable the team to work in a hybrid way.
What were the obstacles you faced with regards to managing a remote team?
Working remotely undoubtedly increased our productivity but it also created individual challenges for the team; from having enough space to work, through to home-schooling the kids. We needed a flexible approach to work-life balance and ensuring everyone had the necessary equipment to enable them to continue with their projects, investing in new laptops was essential part of that.
As the team organised their work around their personal challenges it really didn’t matter when or where they were working – as long as we met our customers’ expectations and upheld the level of service and quality that they expect.
Gen-Z have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic more than any other age group with regards to emotional distress and being disconnected from the team. Have you put any specific measures in place to provide extra support for your younger team members?
We are lucky that our team can visit the office on a regular basis. We downsized our office during the pandemic as it was apparent that working in a hybrid capacity was going to stay so we all embrace hot desking when working from the office. All our team members have daily stand-ups, and we encourage everyone to communicate on a regular basis via Teams when they are not working from the office. Regular communication and interaction are essential. Kris and Andy do a fabulous job of ensuring their respective teams are happy and connected. We all meet once a month face-to-face via our community get togethers where we meet in the office, a team member will present something interesting and we’ll have a bite to eat together, buffet style, followed by a visit to a local pub for a few drinks.
Have you introduced any new policies or procedures post pandemic to help you to manage and develop your team?
We have been working with 360 Growth Partners to design and implement a new performance and development review (PDR) process to ensure the growth of each team member from a personal development perspective as well as aligning to JUMP’s new business objectives. Kris and Andy have daily stand-ups with their respective teams and individual check-ins when team members are working remotely. My attitude towards working remotely has changed entirely due to the pandemic. We implemented a working from home (WFH) policy and whilst I still wish to encourage our team to work from the office, our team members work hybrid, between home and office and so far, it is working very well.
I also introduced a self-improvement fund, to support of our core value ‘Growth’ where all eligible colleagues can claim up to £150 a year to spend on advancing their skills or knowledge or learning new ones.
Do you think your leadership style has changed post pandemic?
I guess you would need to speak to my team about that. However, in my opinion, I would say my leadership style hasn’t changed that much. Ultimately, I am still running and growing a business, however I am more appreciative of everyone’s personal circumstances. It is about being flexible and would trust that this cut both ways.
To find out more about Jump and the fantastic creative solutions they offer please visit their website.