May 1, 2021

After the crazy past year of health concerns and personal and business challenges, I can clearly relate to the soldier who cautiously decides to stick his head out of a foxhole and take a peek to see what is on the horizon after it appears that the shooting or bombing has stopped. Perhaps you feel this way, too. It’s probably time to say “time-out,” to rethink the situation we each find ourselves in and to decide what we are going to do.  Do we stay put, move forward or consider retreating?

Leaders of all types of organizations have faced challenges over the past year that have been so severe that they are physically and mentally worn out. These leaders need to take a brief time-out.  Regardless of the type of organization or business involved, people have had to deal with things that were never envisioned or remotely anticipated. Last year, who would have thought that in twelve months there would be such a drastic “new normal?” Leadership needs to rethink the best approach to the challenges of isolation, generational change and customer, employee and social expectations.  We need to understand that what worked in the past does not necessarily work in the current environment. Long before the pandemic, I would say that “Our mission, principles and values don’t change, but the systems we use to execute them are always subject to change or review.” It is important that we understand that those we count on or just encounter have all been impacted in some way.  It is critical that leaders strategically plan how we will meet our objectives despite our new challenges.  One thing for sure is that we all need to take a short time-out to celebrate our blessings. We also need to respectfully take a few moments to honor those whose journey has come to an end.

Lots of people who have temporarily exited the workforce, by choice or circumstance, are now having to make decisions about what they are going to do next. Some people will be forced to re-enter the marketplace and pick up where they left off twelve months ago. Some are dealing with the reality that they are required to go back into the office or shop and once again put on the company and workplace attire. I know some people are lobbying really hard to continue to work from home and their position is supported by projections from financial analysts. There are risks and consequences for each decision. My goal is to share a few streetwise perceptions to help you with your decision if you in fact have an option.

If you want to provide for your family then you need to go back to work. For me, that has always been a no-brainer.  My family likes to eat, and I have bills to pay. If you can work from home and that is what you want to do, then you have that choice.  However, there are hidden prices to pay. If you are required to go back into your workplace to enter the new post-covid work environment, then you have to do that or find a new job or career.

My position is tainted based upon my personal biases and perceptions but going back into the workplace does have several positives. By being back in the workplace you become part of the “team.” Being in the workplace enhances your exposure to your boss and others in the organization. They just might like you enough to help your career grow!

It is quite possible that by being present you can become the “go-to person.”  My son played football for seventeen years and I used to always tell him:  “Always have your helmet on, looking serious, like you are ready to get in the game and hurt someone. Make sure you stand directly behind the coach on the sidelines so that when he looks around, he sees you with that hungry look on your face.  He is more likely to say, ‘get in there and do something.’”

I might be a dinosaur, but in my opinion all of the electronic communication systems in the world won’t replace casual conversations with facial expressions, voice tones and reflective comments. These conversations foster an environment of personal, career and team growth.

If culture is important to you and your organization, there is no good substitute for being present in your workplace. Some experts claim that studies show that there is real meaning in the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” I cannot tell you how much I learned in employee break rooms as a result of good and bad casual conversations. It’s these conversations that gave me access to influencers who helped me become who I am.

At age 69, my mindset will forever be “if you aren’t growing then you are dying.”  We all need to take a short and methodical time-out as we try to figure out what is best for us and those we serve and what we want to leave behind!

Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.