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It’s All About the Team

Posted on October 19, 2021 by

Rob Dutkiewicz

Rob Dutkiewicz

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We have all heard the phrase, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This aptly applies to today’s situation and, no, I am not talking about our beloved Detroit Lions! What I am referring to is the alarming lack of qualified employees. I am finding that this relates to just about everyone, everywhere.

When we went into the Covid crisis more than 18 month ago, I suspect many of us expected to experience results common in a crisis: a significant economic downturn, layoffs, tightening cash flow, and a buckling down until we emerged from the uncertainty of this horrible pandemic. A crisis is rarely welcomed by entrepreneurs, but they do serve an important purpose in that they correct imbalances in the market. Internal projects slow to come to fruition are often shut down, poorly productive plants are shuttered, unprofitable services are brought to a close, and less productive employees are removed from the organization. And, in the meantime, management goes to work, focusing on where and how to invest when they emerge from the crisis. However, this crisis was much different. Though some of these expected outcomes did occur, I think it is fair to say that for most industries outside of hospitality, it hasn’t been as harsh or long lasting as feared. What has been most alarming is the market’s reaction to the supply chain, especially the labor market. We went into the market already with a shortage in labor. Many may have expected this crisis would provide a bit of relief in this area. In contrast, there has been almost none, and I believe many would say the matter has worsened.

What has amazed me is how well business owners have responded to the crisis. America showed why it is known as an economic powerhouse. Despite some controversy, vaccinations were developed and approved at record speed. Companies and their employees were, in many cases, as productive as ever working from home thanks to technology. But, what is also clear is that now there is a burnout and exhaustion at a level never seen before. I hear this from many clients and the reasons are plentiful. Covid anxiety over health of employees and their families, the lack of engagement with teammates, and the exhaustion of working from home while dealing with children and schooling all contribute to this reality. Companies are now experiencing their highest resignation rates ever, and it is forecasted to get worse before better.

Here are a few ideas that I hope will not only help to retain your employees, but also help your organization prosper in this new world:

  • Show vulnerability and build trust. Let’s face it, operating in this environment is not easy and nobody has all the answers. The good news is that your staff doesn’t expect you to. They do, however, expect and appreciate transparency. As an example, it is quite clear that training and development is difficult in this environment and new practices need to be developed and explored. Let your folks know you are committed to resolving this and will seek out their thoughts on how to do this.
  • Be flexible where you can. I thank my lucky stars that my children are all young adults and I don’t have to experience some of the great challenges that some of my colleagues do. This is tough for everyone, and to the extent you can help your team be more successful, they will greatly appreciate your efforts. For many industries, hybrid environments are here to stay. Where you can, help team members with flexibility by building understanding that it has to work for both sides.
  • Team, team, and more team. I find that this crisis has the potential to impact organizational culture, which is another way of saying that the team may not work together like they used to.  You must find new ways to engage your team, and often some of the best answers can come from the staff themselves. They understand the importance of culture and want to be a part of it as well. In this ultra-competitive world, it almost seems impossible to win unless you do it as a team.

I wish everyone luck as we all try to adjust to this new world. And I hope that your team, like ours, has performed well during this crisis.  I would like to again tip my hat to our team, who has performed so brilliantly.

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Rob Dutkiewicz


Rob is recognized by clients, the C&M team and colleagues around the world for his pragmatic and thoughtful leadership.

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