I know you’re scrambling; trying to adapt to sales goals, customer needs, leading a remote workforce. It’s a lot. I want to be helpful so I’m going to share what’s happening for most of your employees, especially the women.

Kids typically come to mom first for everything. Trust me, moms have a love/hate relationship with this phenomenon. So while we’re working and trying to manage school and basic needs of our children, we’re losing our shit. I’d say it nicer but I want you to get the full effect. This shit is hard on moms.

For the single moms, you need to send her a care package every other day that says “I love you, you’re doing great, we trust you, we know this is hard.”

For dual-income parents, most are teaming up; “you take the kids in the morning, I’ll take them afternoon” or some version of divide and conquer. They’re using all of their leadership skills. There are notes on the door of the office coded with instructions for kids needing more turkey or wanting more screen time. There are whiteboards in the kitchen with everyone’s work meetings and school schedules. They’re doing their best.

Here’s my loving reminder: Mandatory meetings that don’t fall in their scheduled time are making their life a living hell. Now the parents are having the “who’s job is more important” glare at each other. Stress they don’t need right now. Stress that’s not helping them do a better job for you and the customers.

Record meetings they can watch later or get way more flexible on the schedule and who needs to attend. It’s time to see the people you work with you as human beings with a very full and complicated life. They are no longer the CSR’s or the DSM’s. They are John who has a newborn and is mostly working 2am to 10am. Sherry who is a single mom with two kids under 10 and is barely hanging on. Rachel who is taking care of getting her parent’s groceries on top of managing her own 3 kids. Once you call them by their human name and their human situation, you’ll see why flexibility is key.

And I know the work needs to get done and the customers need to be served. They know it too, which is why they are super stressed. They WANT to continue to perform and many are probably scared of losing their jobs. Fear is a shitty motivator.

Be clear. Be kind. Give context. Pare back. Give clarity on the top one or two priorities each week and the context of why those are important. Not everything is getting done right now. Help them know what’s really most important and why so they don’t feel like they’re failing at everything. Give them one or two things they can win for the week.

Send loving notes of appreciation. Often.

Let me be really really really clear. If you are working with a stay at home spouse who is managing the kids and all the other things, you are the most blessed working human there is right now. Own that. Kiss your spouse, thank them for taking on the kids and school, then send flowers to Karen in accounting because she’s cried twice today already.

If your leader is doing a phenomenal job right now, tell them. Send them a simple note that says exactly that and how it’s helping you cope.

Be human. Speak human.

Business speak is dead, it should have died a decade ago. Cut the crap on acronyms and consultant speak. It doesn’t make you sound smart, it makes you sound cold and unkind.

Nobody is boiling any oceans or leveraging anything but kindness right now. I know old habits are sometimes hard to break. Like the cigarettes you gave up in the 90’s, start paying attention to your habits, the word habits. See people, really see them.

When you speak human, this will be a beautiful leadership journey that started in struggle and chaos and ended in connection.