This content was originally featured on the Maliasili Reader, a bi-weekly round-up of Maliasili's favorite links, tips, and ideas to help conservation organizations thrive. For more content like this - sign up here.
Conserving Africa’s Wildlife and Wildlands through COVID →
A new article in Nature Ecology & Evolution looks closely at the conservation impacts of COVID-19 in Africa. The authors provide a number of recommendations for ways to address key challenges, one of which highlights the importance of supporting African civil society conservation efforts.
COVID continues to affect the workplace →
A recent poll has shown that employees are feeling less prepared to do their jobs and less informed and supported than they were during the early days of the pandemic. This article shares some tips on how to fix that, and we share even more below.
Joining a new team remotely →
It can actually work - Akshay Vishwanath joined the Maliasili team in June 2020. He recently spoke to the African Leadership University about his non-traditional onboarding experience, and shared some great advice on how it can work: focus on team dynamics, come with the right mindset, and be willing to experiment and laugh.
Ideas and Inspiration
Now more than ever, your team needs you →
We recently asked African conservation leaders we work with what kind of help and support they need right now. We were moved by two of the following comments, both of which remind us that these are exceptionally hard times. While we might be more comfortable with what has become the ‘new normal,’ we need to remember to step back and take time to support ourselves and our teams.
“We as leaders all have to deal with this in different ways and at different intensities on personal, familial, organizational and sectoral levels. All whilst trying to maintain stability, it’s a lot to do and the demands on our time have grown. Most of us are operating in a hybrid environment of both physical meetings and physical distancing measures which can only add to the confusion and strangely to the demands...I am not sure what will help except some solidarity and joint exploration of the incremental changes we can make through nudges in these extraordinary times…”
“In addition to meeting our own challenges as leaders, our teams need connection and a feeling of community too.”
Here are some nudges and reminders that might help you support your team and yourself during these hard times.
Support your team
Check in, often - Right now we need to be even more intentional about building relationships with our teams - drop a note and share some news about your weekend, ask about theirs and find opportunities to engage in non-work related discussions when possible. But remember the purpose of these ‘check ins,’ which are about relationships and compassion. If you’re not careful, it may seem to your team that you’re ‘checking up’ on their work or how they’re spending their time, otherwise known as micromanagement. You can avoid this by being authentic and genuine and by making these check-ins a regular form of communications so they don’t catch anyone off guard. Ask “how are you doing?” not “what are you doing?”
- Here’s a great trick from Brene Brown on how you can more easily find out how people are really doing.
- Give space for people to surface their fears. Don’t assume you know how people feel or understand what they’re experiencing. Dedicate time and space to listen.
- Practice appreciation - People do better with appreciation, and stop thinking in the presence of criticism. A 5:1 praise to criticism ratio is even recommended. You can be authentic by looking for the good and praising your team rather than just focusing on what’s not working. (Also, here’s a link to one of our favorite tools for thinking and leading.)
- Fill cups - Bring joy to your team by celebrating successes and finding fulfillment in the work that you do. That may be harder to do right now, but it is definitely still possible. Finding gratification and reward in your work is essential. Remember the why - we all do this work for a reason, and it's important to reconnect with that reason as much as possible.
- Take time out - Some people find meditation works (here’s a great article on a skeptics journey to embracing meditation), others prefer to go for a walk outside with their cattle. Find something that calms you and allows you to focus on things outside of work - it will make you more productive, happier, and healthier in the long run.
- Sleep well - Getting enough sleep is critical to physical and mental health. This simple and clear white paper is about why sleep matters for effective leadership and how to get more of it.
- Boundaries and balance - Working from home can feel like work is always there with you. It makes it even harder to close the door and leave work behind at the end of the day. If possible, confine work to a “work area” in your home so it doesn’t invade every aspect of your life. Everyone is different, but setting clear boundaries, physically and temporally, can help contain work and make sure you are investing in other areas of your life- family, friends, hobbies, whatever brings you joy and rejuvenation. Just because you live at work now does not mean you need to be at work all the time.
- Prioritize your health - Even more important at this time, try to get plenty of greens and fresh foods in your diet to boost your immune system. And exercise regularly! We also found these tips for staying healthy at your desk helpful.
- Share your feelings - No matter what position you hold in an organization, you are a person and you have feelings. It’s important to allow yourself to experience your emotions and it’s helpful to find people you trust and can share them with.
Also, these top 5 tips for organizational responses to COVID from our CEO, Fred, are still useful and relevant.
Finally, this is a long read but worth including as it has great graphics and practical ideas and strategies for managing through these times: Weathering the emotional storms of a crisis: a tactical guide for individual contributors and managers.
A Moment of Pause
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone”
-A feel good song and video (even if you’re not a Liverpool fan!)