How to Lead a Team during a Crisis

How to Lead a Team during a Crisis

We’re living in uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for virtually everyone on the planet. If you’re a manager or team leader, it’s now more important than ever to maintain a positive company culture through strong leadership.

Specifically, you need to prioritize the following responsibilities and tasks. Your team may be anxious right now, but if you put forth the effort, you can be the type of leader who helps them stay motivated, focused, and optimistic.

Embrace Flexibility

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During times of uncertainty, it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy for your team members. This involves continuing to work in a capacity relatively similar to how your team usually operates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with organizations across a wide range of industries. Even those not directly affected will still feel the indirect ripple effect—if your company provides financial services for clients in the hospitality industry, the hit they’re taking will naturally affect your business.

That means certain timelines and budgets that were established before the pandemic may no longer be reasonable. You need to strike a balance between continuing to work at a typical pace and accepting that your team likely won’t reach certain goals as soon as you’d originally predicted. There are factors beyond your team’s control here. You don’t want to stress your employees by ignoring the reality of the situation.

Focus on Purpose

To return to the example above, if several of your clients are in the hospitality industry (or any other industry directly affected by the pandemic), they’re likely going to need to put certain projects or contracts on hold, leading to lower revenue for your company. Of course, failing to bring in as much revenue as anticipated can easily discourage your team.

Instead, you can keep your employees feeling enthusiastic by reminding them of your larger purpose. After all, one of the most effective ways to develop a strong company culture is to ensure that employees find a sense of greater meaning in their work. Right now, you must stress the importance of having a goal that’s more important than money. If you focus on revenue as the goal of the work your team does rather than an outcome, such as a great marketing campaign, your employees likely will not stay committed.

Take Care of Practical Tasks

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While inspiring your employees is important, as a team leader, you’re also responsible for handling certain practical tasks during this unique time.

For instance, if your team used to work in an office, you may have switched to a remote work arrangement in recent weeks. If you haven’t, you may have to shortly. You will need to ensure your team is equipped to handle this transition smoothly, meaning you’ll need to make sure everyone has any necessary equipment and/or collaboration and communication tools set up and establish processes to facilitate a seamless transition to remote work. 

Keep in mind that studies show a lack of proper equipment and/or resources is a key reason why employees become disengaged. By stepping up and handling these practical tasks, you’ll signal to your employees that you’re willing to support them, no matter what is going on in the world. This will help you keep your workers engaged.

Emphasize Health

You and your team must work together to keep your business running during these trying times. However, don’t make the mistake of prioritizing the business’ survival over the health of your employees. If you make employees feel their health is a secondary priority, they certainly won’t be engaged enough to help the business thrive.

Your business is more likely to stay in good shape during the pandemic and its aftermath if you make it clear that staying healthy should be your workers’ main goal. Also, if you don’t emphasize the importance of self-care and wellness, your employees might fail to take care of themselves, as they’ll neglect their own safety to continue meeting your demands.

Be Thorough and Honest

The temptation to conceal realities from your team members during uncertain times is understandable. However, you need to resist this impulse. Your employees deserve to know the truth about the state of your company. Additionally, they deserve truthful and regular updates explaining what steps you and others are taking to keep the company afloat and on target. Communication is essential.

Yes, this is a difficult time, but it will pass. Right now, your employees depend on you to be the kind of leader they can trust. These tips will help you make the right impression.

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