Galina Akhmerova: ‘The leaders’ task now is to irradiate confidence and provide support’

An expert in the labour market about the role of a company’s manager and the work of HR directors during the mobilisation

Russian employers have launched a new instrument to attract staff — companies lure employees with the possibility of conscription deferment. Job websites already have more than 150 vacancies with the bonus. Job seekers offer to join enterprises of the Defence and Industrial Complex, IT companies and security agencies. In an op-ed column for Realnoe Vremya, founder of Darwin Modern Education Accessibility Development Fund, former top manager of BARS Group and creator of Round career guidance app for teenagers Galina Akhmerova reflects on how other organisations should do where the staff issue is resolved while some employees are being mobilised. “Now it is important to readjust the business given the conscription letter and work understanding each other,” the expert recommends.

To irradiate confidence and provide support

Living during the era of changes is what our generation inherited from birth. And perhaps this is why we collect ourselves quite quickly at a moment of any uncertainty or stress.

Psychologist and psychotherapist Alfried Längle has a metaphor for life (and work) in such circumstances — a bridge above the abyss. When you cross the bridge above the raging stream and you know it is strong and reliable, you aren’t scared to cross the river trusting your feet. The most important thing is to risk and test something for reliability.

Confidence and the feeling of safety is hidden in three things.

  • To find something one can rest on — work, family, friends, hobby.
  • To take small steps and do not stop — continue doing usual actions: cook, walk, read, so sport.
  • Be a part of the community — not to go into your shell, help others.

I think leaders and managers’ task now is to first of all irradiate confidence and provide support.

The team must see they are in the same boat with you

1. About confidence.

For this, for starters, it is necessary to become balanced and make a plan. As people say, put a mask yourself first, then put it on your child.

At the same time, I hear many quite experienced managers disagree: “How will I make a plan now and what will I tell my employees because planning is impossible?” Sadly, there is no other way, it is necessary to collect yourself and first handle your feeling of anxiety.

When I say plans, I mean to imagine all possible scenarios, even the most unpleasant ones. To think of each of them and understand what to do in every case. When you already lose them and emotionally went through them, you aren’t scared anymore. While employees don’t need a plan per se but trust in the leader’s words. And if the manager say there is a plan A and plan B, they will continue to follow the manager.

2. To provide support.

A team must see they are in the same boat with you, you also have worries, but you can cope with everything together. It is important for somebody to hear words from you, for some it is important to speak out, somebody simple needs a hug. I think reasonable managers share financial support too. And here it is again important to voice it, not wait that something is meant be default.

According to a study of Culture of Innovations with such big companies as Sber Marketing, Yandex, Rosbank, Skolkovo, Pyatyorochka, Tele2, Rostelecom and others, in uncertainty employees choose one of 10 behaviour models. And each of them have their goals and needs, pains, motivation and ways of handling uncertainty.

To create a different agenda and focus the team on the company’s mission

The role of the company during the period of uncertainty:

  1. To create an environment of professional and mutual assistance for employees. This should not only formal and official communication of information and explanations. People need to speak out, and not in the smoking area or open platforms, but in a closed safe environment where qualified assistance (legal, psychological and simply humane) will be provided. Now it is the best time to share your emotions and worries inside the staff. Work with people’s energy and lead it in a positive direction.
    Zero-coder Kirill Pshinnik, for instance, offers not to evaluate events but focus on the formation of stability and predictability for employees.
  2. To create a different agenda. Focus the team on the company’s mission. And it would be good if the mission was about human values for society, which are close and attainable every day. Now it is not the time for long-term slogans. People need energy from what they do at the moment.

The main work won’t take a back seat. Process optimisation solutions and instruments are good during the period of uncertainty in the same Culture of Innovations. Now it is important to readjust the work given the agenda and work understanding each other. Might the routine, work and everyday issues, communication with your nearest and dearest, the restriction of incoming information, the possibility of being a pillar for others, support for the community of single-minded people, physical activity and psychological practices be the main drivers and a place to stand on during the uncertainty.

Galina Akhmerova

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.