The past couple of weeks has been challenging for all of us, Joanne and I included. Whilst we’re very fortunate that our business structure is agile and designed to withstand a downturn, we’re still dealing with the same people, financial and personal issues you are.
We are though in a unique position in that we’re able to observe the response and reactions from a number of organisations and I for one have found this fascinating (and at times a little scary!).
With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a guide on how you can ensure that you and your team come out of Covid-19 stronger and more successful than ever:
Remember you’re only human
This is an event like we’ve never experienced before and we’re all doing our best to get through it. This also applies to your team. Everyone handles stress and uncertainty in their own way so be kind to yourself and to your team.
This is not the time to be a stickler for the rules, allow a bit of flexibility where you can. Show your team some compassion and let them know that you genuinely care about them and their families. On a day to day basis encourage staff to take regular breaks, go for a walk, or organise an online chat with their team-mates. Try to keep things as light as possible and have a laugh together as much as you can.
Don’t go MIA
With so many of us working from home it can be very easy to drop off the radar, but really now more than ever your team need you and will be looking to you for guidance and re-assurance. Making sure that you regularly check in with your team members is critical. A quick chat can be enough to help people re-engage and feel that they have a sense of purpose (particularly if your business has been dramatically affected and the workload is no longer there). I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs to re-focus every couple of days!
Ensure that any business decisions being made are measured and thought-out
Last week I heard of a situation where someone was stood down from their role on Thursday only to be told their role was being re-instated the following day. I completely appreciate that the situation is rapidly evolving, however you can imagine the stress this employee felt on the Thursday, spending the afternoon calling the bank, health insurer, speaking with his family etc. I’m sure he’ll be a little wary of any decisions his employer makes moving forward.
Keep the lines of communication open
This is a tricky one given that things are evolving so quickly, but the more you communicate with your team the better. Even if it’s just to let them know that you don’t have all the answers right now, but you can assure them that as soon as you know, they’ll know. What you don’t want is for your team to talk amongst themselves and hypothesize about what they think might happen because they haven’t received any communication from you. That just fuels stress and anxiety.
Focus on the future
Something I’m hearing often is the line “This too shall pass” and while it may not seem like it now, sometime in the future we’ll be on the other side of this and business will return to some kind of ‘normal’. So, instead of focusing on what you can’t do right now, have a think about what you can do to set up the business and your team for future success.
Finally, I think it’s important to remember that as difficult as it is managing people through this crisis, it will be (relatively) short-lived. What will be remembered in the long term though, is how you handled the situation and treated your team members.