The COVID-19 pandemic has tested us in profound ways. For many of us, it may feel as though the last year has been an unending crisis, with teams and workplaces forced to make constant adaptations and innovations just to stay in business. The silver lining is that these strange times present managers with an opportunity to develop important leadership skills. Specifically, there are some golden rules to leading your team during a season of crisis.
Leading Through a Crisis
1) Demonstrate some basic EQ.During a season of crisis, your team members are naturally going to be struggling. As a leader, you’re probably going to be tempted to try to fix all your problems. Resist that temptation. You simply don’t have the time or the emotional bandwidth to make everything right for every single employee. And frankly, that’s probably not what your employees actually want: Often, it’s more than sufficient for you to check in on them, asking how things are going, acknowledging their plight, and showing that you care.
Now, there are some problems you can and should solve… but be willing to acknowledge those occasions where you’re unable to be a fixer. In these situations, exhibiting some empathy and emotional intelligence (EQ) can go a long way.
2) Create psychological safety.Do your employees feel comfortable saying that they’re overwhelmed by stress and need to take five? Do they know that they can come to you to ask for support or flexibility if they are experiencing a family crisis?
During difficult seasons, it becomes more important than ever to create workplaces that offer psychological safety. This can be as simple as actively encouraging your employees to take breaks or use PTO as needed.
3) ) If you don’t know the answer, just say so. During COVID-19, we’ve all been forced to make decisions or deal with issues we’re completely unaccustomed to. As a leader, remember that you’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending to know things that you don’t. Not only is it okay to admit it when you don’t have an answer, but it may actually be helpful, opening the door to a more collaborative approach, or winning the understanding of your team as you try something outside the box.
4) Be intentional in your communication. Most employees find it reassuring to hear from their leaders on a regular basis. Be thoughtful and proactive in communicating, whether that’s in-person or remotely. Acknowledge tension in the world or in the daily headlines. Ask people how they are doing. Solicit feedback. Reiterate company goals. Be active and consistent in dialogue with your team members.
5) Foster learning opportunities.During seasons of crisis, your team can benefit from reflection. Have you all had a big win? Ask your team members what lessons can be learned from it. Have you sustained a big loss? Ask your team members what lessons can be learned from it. Prioritize growth and development for your team members, no matter the circumstance.
Questions About Crisis Management?
Interested in learning more about how you can effectively lead your team through seasons of crisis? Or about the specific role HR can play in facilitating healthy, productive work environments? We’d love to talk. Reach out to WhiteWater Consulting to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.