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Ask John Dame: How do I prepare my team to come back?

Question for JD: I own a building that has several tenants. Although we do not have the green light yet to head back to work, how do I prepare the building and my team to head back to work?

Answer: As we get closer to the time to return to work from your office, I believe you will see more and more offers from companies that will “help” you get your facility ready. You must follow CDC and Pa Department of Health guidelines. John’s Hopkins also has an online check list for returning to work. Bottom line is that your employees and your tenants will want to be 100% assured that you have taken every step to assure a healthy and safe environment. Landlords like you will need to reconfigure the space for social distancing, clean and sanitize and offer PPE for every employee, guest and visitor.

You need to develop a plan in the event someone does get sick at your office you won’t lose your entire staff to quarantine. Put your safety plan for your company and building in writing. Over communicate with your tenants and employees. Put up big signs that describe your policies. Expect some employees and tenants to be slow to return to work. You will need to respect some concerns that are expressed by your employees and tenants. Finally, these are forever changes. We will never go back to doing business the way that we did before.

PS: If you need resources I have a community drop box that is full of data and ideas to return to work safely. Drop me a line at [email protected] and I will send you the link

Question: For the past eight weeks I feel like all I have dealt with is COVID-19 issues. It looks like my company will survive, but I have turned into a fire-fighter verses a leader that plans and sees into the future strategically. How do I break out of this pattern?

Answer: Firefighting is addictive. We love to be needed and most executives get a physical jolt out of problem solving. The issue with this leadership style is that it limits your scale. If you become SAKU (the source of all knowledge in the universe) you diminish yourself and those individuals that you are trying to develop.

Here are four steps to push yourself out of that firefighting mode into a more strategic mode:
1. Schedule your next Strategic Planning Session; Sooner is better.
2. Push decision making back to the right level in your organization. Do not solve all the problems. Develop trust.
3. Establish the right pulse of meetings for your company: It could be daily huddles, Weekly operational meetings, 1-2-1 coaching sessions. Establish a pattern and process that works for you and your company. Stop the ad hock meetings. Make it stable.
4. Block your calendar to allow for times that you can think strategically. Slow down to speed up.

John Dame, CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist –

A CEO coach to countless business leaders, John Dame (“JD”) is an executive team consultant and leadership strategist based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He founded Dame Management Strategies in 2002, serves as Vistage’s Best Practice Chair for South Central Pennsylvania, and founded JD Evolution, an annual conference that features a series of daylong events that explore critical leadership qualities. Visit his website at:

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