Leading from Home? Six Things I’ve Learned While Running a Sales and Service Organization from my Living Room

I just finished the first of many virtual meetings with the Temporary Administrative Recruiting team here at Hollister. Who knew we could run a virtual sales and service organization and stay so connected and synchronized. I must say, this world is all new for me and for 80 percent of our staff, yet we are all acclimating to the what and the how, and to connecting and communicating amidst this pandemic. I acknowledge all of my colleagues who are truly stepping into this new space and serving our clients and candidates with an abundance of TLC.

There was so much promise that came out of my virtual meeting and I want to share some of the learnings, as I am fully aware that these are critical for us as leaders now:

1) Transparent and Frequent Communication is Critical

I must say, I run a pretty emotionally connected shop that has always put culture first, and so not seeing one another on a daily basis does affect morale. Additionally, not having live communication daily can create fear during these times of uncertainty. It is the “not knowing” that deepens the fear. Thus, getting on Zoom and hearing from me and others as to what is happening keeps everyone feeling connected and wanting to maintain momentum. Now let me be clear, I too am leading in uncharted waters and do not know what is next either, but I can assure my team that I commit to transparent and open communication with each of them.

2) Organization and Production From Home is an Acquired Rhythm and Requires Some Work

Being at this for four days as a sales and service organization brings up so many questions. How do we stay focused? Where do I set up my office? Can I go out for a walk? If I leave the Zoom meeting do I have to tell everyone? Is someone watching my production more than when I was working in the office?

All of these questions are real for people and being able to say it out loud and to receive feedback lessens the fear. Today, some best practices were shared by a long-time member of my company and they were so appreciated by the team. So many questions were answered as a result of creating a forum for safe, honest conversation where no question was a bad one. The great white elephant is not to be feared after all. All were encouraged to take breaks and to take walks for their well-being. Mostly, being able and having time to connect and to see everyone was a breath of fresh air for all.

3) Maintain a Mindset of Compassion and Empathy to Bring Levity and Reduce Stress

We talked about how critical it is to focus on our mindset during this time. My staff is talking to so many people – those who have lost jobs, clients who need to hire, and clients who cannot hire but need to. Every conversation presents an opportunity to offer compassion, empathy, and levity. None of us can control these unforeseen circumstances, but we can control our attitudes and how we think and speak about all that is going on. While we benefit from the critical information and instruction that comes from our state and federal governments, we may allow the gravity of the current crisis to weaken our spirits. Instead, we can choose (and it is a choice) to project friendship, community, and support. If we all commit to this, we can move through with less stress.

4) Listen To Learn What We Can be Doing More/Less Of

Asking questions reveals invaluable insight into how we, as leaders, can better provide for and engage with our teams. The team requested that I facilitate meditation virtually, in lieu of what I would normally do at the office (in person, two times per week). By listening, I learned that there was a desire for the routine that once was, such as regular meditation sessions. I made the commitment to conduct regular meditations via Zoom for our team. This allows us to build community, reduce anxiety, and increase focus for productive days ahead. Apparently, this can be done virtually – who knew!

5) Acknowledge the Reality of What Is 

This seems so simple but sometimes we forget to merely listen and validate the pain people are in. When we listen, we are naming “it” and “it”, then, does not run us underneath the surface. Many shared their stories and many shared some amazing conversations they have had with clients, candidates, family, and friends that were filled with inspiration too. Which leads me to…

6) Cultivate Inspiration

We, as leaders, need to remember to inspire through these turbulent waters. I am reminded of living through the past three recessions holding a leadership role and, while recessions both small and large are challenging, this particular crisis presents an unprecedented set of challenges. Crisis requires that we hold ourselves to the highest standard and to be our very best. People want to hear our stories – funny ones, scary ones, and authentic human ones about how we have inspired in the past and how we inspire today to focus on this present moment and not the future of potential devastation. Worrying is imagining the worst case scenario. I, however, choose to see this as a time that is about re-calibration and I truly believe that amazing good will come out of this for our business and for yours. We will come out stronger, more agile, and better than we were.

I wish you all health and success.


Kip Hollister