It can be challenging to manage a team or an organization when unprecedented circumstances arrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused working professionals to reevaluate their management strategies and priorities. Now more than ever, professionals must rely on problem-solving strategies and leadership skills to guide their employees and clients.
Taremeredzwa T. Chirewa is a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna and the director of Goethe Zentrum Harare (Zimbabwe German Society), a cultural exchange center and language school. She has focused her career on “developing and supporting the Creative and Cultural Industry (CCI) through creative enterprise, from supporting relevant skills-based programs to advocacy.” She states, “I create space for CCI professionals to share their stories and knowledge.”
Some of her employees, students and clients had difficulty adjusting to virtual teaching and online resources after the pandemic caused Goethe Zentrum Harare to close its doors to in-person learning.
To prepare her employees for virtual teaching, Taremeredzwa looked for strategies to ensure her team felt reassured and able to move at their own pace. She states: “Getting started was a challenge as there was much resistance from the team and the teachers. However, after we did a digital assessment and strategy, they started to come on board slowly. Of the six teachers, only three were willing to try out virtual teaching in 2020. As the year ended, one more joined them, having realized that there was no going back to the way things were.”
The students, too, initially struggled with this shift to online learning. She says: “With the students, we gave them a choice to continue virtually or wait for an adjustment in lockdown restrictions. The latter group soon realized that was not happening soon, and the majority then opted for the online classes. Those that did not want to continue with online classes signed waivers stating they were willing to wait however long was necessary.”
“With the clients, their response was more positive after a few months of not having the physical space available. To keep our clients updated and at ease, we would share information via our social media platforms and through our mailing list.”
It is essential to make sure your team feels supported, especially during challenging times as a manager. Taremeredzwa’s advice is to be flexible with your team. She states: “I think patience with one another is crucial at this stage as we are going through so much, both professionally and personally. We need to extend grace to each other as a lot has changed so quickly over the last year and a half.”
To be better prepared for times of uncertainty and understand the challenges that your business could expect, complete the YALI Network Business Analysis Workbook to develop contingency plans to sustain and strengthen your business.
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