Posted 12 months ago by Nathalie Shirley

'Putting your best foot forward in the midst of a global crisis' with Nathalie Shirley

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No one could have predicted the last six months and people and businesses alike have had to navigate through these times of uncertainty as best as they can. We spoke to Nathalie Shirley, Senior HR Business Partner at Twitter who shared with us her key insights into putting your best foot forward in the midst of global turmoil.

On Communication, ‘lead with empathy’.

‘Communication is key; without it we cannot develop trust and confidence across teams. When the UK went into lockdown it is fair to assume that not everyone felt comfortable with working remotely. As well as that, you have to make the assumption that not everyone had the best set up in terms of working from home. Everything that we all knew in terms of how we work, was thrown on its head and the focus for a lot of people, was trying to adapt to their ‘new’ everyday working environment.

This is why leading with empathy has been a huge driving force in all of my communication. Lockdown has been an extremely stressful time for a lot of people and being aware of other people’s personal circumstances during this period has been hugely important for keeping employees engaged, responsive and motivated. We are not living in normal times right now, which calls for more care in the way we communicate with each other to ensure we are getting the best from the people that we work with’.

On influencing senior leaders to ensure people potential is maximised

‘My approach is a coaching approach. I tend to ask leaders the ‘why and the how’ behind their thinking before they put something into action. Through using a coaching technique it enables the leader in question to understand why they are doing something, especially if the situation is a delicate one.

I like to have leaders take me through their perception of what a particular situation is as well as what they actually want that perception to be. I also think it is important to ask them to put themselves in the position of the person or team in the equation before they instate their approach. It makes them consider other components as a result of their actions, such as employee mood and morale, which may perhaps have them reconsider their approach to get the best outcome’.

On the return to work

‘It is natural to expect that for a lot of people, the five day working week in the office is no longer an appealing one, especially when employees might naturally associate risk attached with leaving their homes.

Ultimately,employee health and wellbeing has to come first. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so whatever strategy businesses put in place for the return to work, theyneed to be long term, sustainable and scalable. Businesses need to have sturdy and efficient protocols in place if there is a second wave this winter, to safeguard their employees. The businesses that demonstrate the most care, I believe will solidify the most long term employee loyalty’.

On being a leader in a crisis

‘No one expects to be leading a team through a global crisis, however you have to adjust to the circumstances around you. I think it is important to find the balance of challenging individuals, whilst offering guidance and support; your team needs to find you approachable, otherwise you will be doing everyone a huge disservice in terms of the potential that they could be offering you.

Finally as a leader you have to give your team the autonomy to make their own decisions as well as allowing them to make their own mistakes. If there is one thing that lockdown has taught everyone, it is that we are all human’.


Connect with Nathalie Shirely on LinkedIn here